For a conference that has easily won the most men’s NCAA basketball tournaments in the land, it has a strange chip on its shoulder. Feels neglected, unappreciated, seriously overlooked. This has a little something to do with that old Naismithian philosophy of, “What have you done for me lately?” For all its NCAA muscle, thePac-10 has won exactly twoNCAA titles in the past 31years. Meanwhile, the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten and Southeastern Conference became all the rage. Got most of the championships, the attention, the TV rankings, and of course, tournament invites. This season people were actually talking up the Pac-10 – particularly those in the Pac-10. Seven different teams took turns in the Associated Press Top 25. UCLA was ranked near the top all season. It was absolutely back. Bigger than Rachel Ray, big enough to have its own designer fragrance. Only as the season progressed, the national enthusiasm seemed to wane. Old habits called. First it was viewed as the top conference, then up there with the ACC and now & where? OK, Pac-10, it’s your turn now. Right? Isn’t it? Doesn’t it just have to be? “Early in the season everyone was saying we were the No. 1 conference in the country,” Oregon coach Ernie Kent said. “Then the closer we got to March, the Pac-10 started slipping again. “I don’t know why. Nothing has changed. I know we’re not a conference televised by ESPN. Now on ESPN Game Day, (commentator) Jay Bilas is talking about us being the fourth- or fifth-best conference. And it’s still the toughest, or the second toughest, conference in the country.” But Pac-10 teams have spent the better part of the past three months beating the living snot out each other, and now the AP Top 25 shows only three surviving conference teams – No. 4 UCLA, No. 11 Washington State and No. 16 Oregon. This, despite continued claims by wishful conference coaches that at least six teams will advance into the NCAA Tournament. Honest. It will happen, and no finger-crossing. “It’s a lock, regardless of what happens in the Pac-10 Tournament,” UCLA’s Ben Howland said. It’s best to skeptical here. Six Pac-10 teams have been invited to March Madness only once, in 2002. Five have been invited only four times. Only three received the call in 2004. The past two years, four teams were invited. At no time has seven teams advanced. The Pac-10 Tournament starts today at Staples Center and it figures to be fateful for several teams. Let’s assume UCLA (26-4), Washington State (24-6), Oregon (23-7) and Arizona (20-9) are locks for the NCAA Tournament, and likely so is USC (21-10), although if it falls to Stanford on Thursday night, that’s three consecutive losses and not doing anything for its NCAA r sum . Conference coaches all talk like Stanford is in, and seventh-place Washington should be, too. This is called falling in love with the one closest to you. Stanford is 18-11 and Washington is 18-12. These are not the kind of numbers that scream tournament team. In the Ratings Percentage Index, a valued tool come NCAA committee time, has Stanford 57 and Washington 75. “You tell me a seventh-place team in the country better than Washington,” USC coach Tim Floyd said. “There’s no way in the world. I absolutely believe Stanford is in.” Which sounded like excellent logic to Washington coach Lorenzo Romar. “I wouldn’t disagree,” he said. “Ifthey had a tournament for seventh-place teams, hopefully we would hold our own.” But Washington has exactly oneroad victory all season. The ACC’s seventh-place team is Georgia Tech (20-10), which has beaten No. 8 North Carolina and No.21 Duke. Oklahoma State (20-11) is seventh in the Big 12 and has beaten No. 13 Pitt and No. 15 Texas. Three teams are tied for seventh in the Big East, including West Virginia (21-8) and Villanova (21-9). Michigan State (21-10) is the Big Ten’s seventh-place team and owns victories over No.3 Wisconsin and Texas. Yet Lute Olson said in his 24 years at Arizona, this is the toughest the conference has ever been. It may well be, too. Yet it may be so deep, and have so much unimpressive 31-year history behind it, that this constant beating it’s given each other has diluted the conference in the eyes of the rest of the country. The conference tournament begins today at Staples Center and more blood figures to spill. Every team has something at stake, from UCLA securing a No. 1 seed to Washington just getting an invite. Plenty will be nervous. There’s still much to prove, but alas, it has to be done against each other. Steve Dilbeck’s column appears in the Daily News four times a week. firstname.lastname@example.org. (818) 713-3607 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!
Fear and loathing in Las Vegas? Bet on it. Those who follow the sport can only hope no one is injured – or worse – during today’s race, which is expected to turn into a wreckfest of record proportions. “All I’m going to do is see if they can get GM to put some airbags in there and put pillows on the outside,” driver Tony Stewart said. The blame can be shared by many, but here are the facts as simply as can be stated: Vegas officials redesigned the track, increasing the banking and repaving the surface. Those two factors have made for increased speeds. “It’s been a long time since we’ve had conditions like this,” he said. “I don’t have any idea what (Sunday) is going to be like.” Everyone will find out at 1:30 p.m. today, when the green flag will drop on the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400, where a swirl of controversy and outright fear has enveloped the speedway this weekend. LAS VEGAS – Imagine screaming into a turn, trying to pass another car at close to 200 mph. It’s difficult under normal circumstances. But even the top drivers in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series are having a hard time dealing with the conditions at Las Vegas Motor Speedway – conditions Greg Biffle compared to driving on black ice. During a preseason test at the speedway, drivers suffered many blown tires because manufacturer Goodyear’s current compound couldn’t handle the added pressure that came with higher speeds. As a result, Goodyear decided to bring a rock-hard tire to this weekend’s races. But a stiffer, tougher tire compound means the drivers have no grip. The lack of grip makes for more wrecks, because the drivers lose control of the car. There have been approximately 25-30 racing accidents between the Nextel Cup and Busch Series cars so far this weekend, including a track-record 12 cautions in Saturday’s Busch race. Five Cup cars wrecked in qualifying alone. “If you look in the last 36 hours and look how many cars got crashed, if I were car owners, I would send a bill to the race track,” said Stewart, who has been the most critical of the changes this weekend. “They’re the ones that started the chain of events. “Look at how many top-10 teams and top-10 drivers crashed today. What are they going to say, we all forgot how to drive?” But Stewart has also slammed Goodyear, saying that the tire was the worst one on which he’d ever driven. “We all know Goodyear’s motto,” he said. “As long as they don’t blow tires and as long as they don’t get bad press because they’re blowing tires, they’re happy. They couldn’t care less about the rest of it. “They don’t care how hard the tire is.” Goodyear’s Greg Stucker responded: “We stand by what we did, and if we had all the same data, we’d do the same thing over. We’ve got to do what we think is right for the whole field, not for just one or two guys.” Stewart said he understood why speedway officials wanted to re-do the track: to make more exciting racing, and in turn, sell tickets. It clearly worked, as a sellout crowd of 160,000 is expected today, and NASCAR announced a record Busch race attendance of 110,000 on Saturday. “No one wants a situation like we had two weeks ago at California (Speedway) where the place is half-empty,” Stewart said, referring to the Fontana track. But Stewart said he would have preferred Las Vegas officials confer with NASCAR about changes to the track instead of “trying to play God.” LVMS did not respond to requests to make general manager Chris Powell available for comment on Saturday. Powell also declined comment to ESPN, which was broadcasting Saturday’s Busch race, saying he wanted to let the racing speak for itself. “If you want the racing to get closer, build a half-mile track,” Stewart said. “Last time I checked, Bristol is the most sought-after ticket on the circuit with a three- or four-year waiting list. I mean, where’s the light switch? Is it not coming on anywhere? “If I had a billion dollars, I’d go build another Bristol and laugh all the way to the bank. But they’re not smart enough to do that.” Driver Jeff Burton called the conditions “treacherous” and Kasey Kahne said “it’s like you’re trying to crash every lap.” Burton, though, said there wasn’t much that could be done about it. “I wish we didn’t have to run these tires, but burying your head in the sand and acting like we weren’t going to have a tire problem wasn’t going to fix anything,” he said. “If we brought that same tire back and blew right front tires, what would we have said then? There’s no other choice.” Expect to see plenty of wrecks and plenty of frustrated drivers in today’s race. As for the favorites? Anybody who thinks they can finish the race. Burton might fit into that category. “If it was easy, everyone would do it. It’s supposed to be challenging,” he said. “When we have a tire issue, or a track with bunch of bumps or one that gets really slick, hell man, that’s what it’s about. “A minute to go, tie ballgame, do you want the ball or not? Give me the (darn) ball.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!
BAGHDAD (AP) – Radical Shiite politicians pressed Thursday for legislation demanding a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S.-led troops and a freeze on the number of foreign forces already in the country – even as the U.S. Congress debates the fate of the troubled mission. The proposed Iraqi legislation, drafted by the parliamentary bloc loyal to anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, was signed by 144 members of the 275-member house, according to parliamentary officials. The Sadrist bloc, which holds 30 parliamentary seats and sees the U.S.-led forces as an occupying army, has pushed similar bills before, but this would be the first time it persuaded a majority of lawmakers to sign on. The measure has not yet been introduced in parliament and was unlikely to be passed in its present form. But the signatures reflected growing disenchantment among the lawmakers over U.S. involvement in Iraq and the government’s failure to curb the violence in the country. It also appeared part of a campaign by al-Sadr’s followers to carve out a strong opposition position after they quit Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Cabinet last month over the government’s refusal to demand a timetable for the U.S. to leave. The White House questioned whether Sadrists had the votes in parliament. “The president of Iraq, the vice presidents, and the prime minister all support keeping U.S. troops in Iraq,” National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said in Washington. “The Sadrists often makes these claims, yet rarely produce a bill, let alone a majority.” The discussion over a troop withdrawal came as a series of evening explosions rocked Baghdad, killing at least two people. A total of 35 people were killed or found dead nationwide Thursday. The military announced that three more U.S. troops had been killed. Two soldiers were killed by gunfire Thursday – one in Baghdad and the other in Diwaniyah – and a Marine died Wednesday in combat in Sunni-dominated Anbar province. Despite al-Sadr’s bill, Shiite parties still represented in the Cabinet are not keen to see U.S. troops leave until Iraqi forces are ready to take over security. Al-Maliki relies heavily on U.S. support to hold his factious administration together. Ali al-Adeeb, a senior Shiite lawmaker and confidante of al-Maliki, was skeptical about the wisdom of asking foreign forces to leave. “Their withdrawal will not benefit anyone if our forces are not ready,” al-Adeeb said. “There must be a commitment from foreign parties to train our forces.” Kurdish lawmaker Mahmoud Othman said he supported the draft but only on condition that the withdrawal timetable be linked to a schedule for training and equipping Iraq’s security forces. “But the sponsors of the legislation did not include our observations in the draft. This is deception,” he said. That suggested that some who endorsed the bill will either vote against it or abstain. The proposed bill would require the Iraqi government to seek approval from parliament before it requests an extension of the U.N. mandate for foreign forces to be in Iraq, said Nassar al-Rubaie, the leader of the Sadrist bloc. It also calls for a timetable for the troop withdrawal and a freeze on the size of the foreign forces. The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously in November to extend the U.S.-led forces’ mandate until the end of 2007. The resolution, however, said the council “will terminate this mandate earlier if requested by the government of Iraq.” The draft bill appeared to be the latest effort by al-Sadr to ratchet up his anti-American rhetoric in an apparent bid to maintain his stature among his followers after disappearing from public view before a U.S.-Iraqi security crackdown began three months ago. Last month, he ordered his six Cabinet ministers to leave the government after al-Maliki refused to put a timetable for a troop withdrawal. The black-turbaned cleric, who the U.S. says is in Iran despite denials by his supporters, ordered his Mahdi Army militia to disarm and stay off the streets to avoid confrontation with the Americans during the current operation. But the Shiite extremists have shown increasing signs of frustration as they face raids and arrests while the bombings largely blamed on Sunni insurgents continue. U.S.-led forces conducted a raid in the Mahdi Army stronghold of Sadr City early Thursday, killing three militants and detaining four as they tried to break up a cell accused of smuggling powerful roadside bombs and other weapons from Iran to fight U.S. forces, the military said. Iraqi police and medical officials said the airstrike damaged three houses and killed eight civilians and wounded nine. The reason for the discrepancy in the two accounts was not immediately clear. The police and medical officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media. Local officials also said an American armored vehicle smashed a mourning tent that had been erected to hold bereaved guests of a deceased resident, injuring three people who were sleeping inside. Footage from AP Television News showed a collapsed tent, with its metal support posts bent and the plastic chairs inside splintered. The military did not comment on the incident. The Thursday night attacks in Baghdad began about 9:10 p.m. when a parked motorcycle exploded near a soda shop in the southeastern area of Zafaraniyah, killing two people and wounding four, police said. About 20 minutes later, a suicide car bomber targeted a U.S. convoy in Karamanah Square, a popular area in the mainly Shiite neighborhood of Karradah, police said. The blast sent up huge plume of smoke. The U.S. military said it had no immediate information on the blast. Meanwhile, an al-Qaida front organization, the Islamic State of Iraq, posted a video showing the execution of nine Iraqi security officers who were lined up blindfolded with their hands bound behind them and shot in the back of the head. The authenticity of the video, posted on a Web site where the group often releases messages, could not be independently confirmed. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!
Sean O’Driscoll Walsall have appointed Sean O’Driscoll as their new head coach.The 58-year-old replaces Dean Smith, who left for Brentford earlier this month, and has signed an initial 18-month deal at the League One club.The interim management team of Jon Whitney, Neil Cutler and John Ward will all stay on.O’Driscoll told the club’s official website: “The culture of the club was the main attraction more than anything else and what everybody at the football club have tried to build in the last few years.“I said to the chairman and the board of directors that in football it’s very rare that you get to contribute towards developing a culture and philosophy.“I’ve watched Walsall in the last two or three seasons and I’ve been entertained every time. There is an exciting project here and I’m relishing the opportunity to play my part in seeing that project through.”Chairman Jeff Bonser added: “We are delighted that Sean has agreed to join us as our new head coach.“We believe he is the right man for the job and will maintain the club’s philosophy of producing young players and playing attractive football.“He has already experienced success at this level with Bournemouth and Doncaster and shares the values which lie at the foundation of Walsall Football Club.“Sean ticks all the boxes in terms of the identity, blueprint and ethos that we work towards.“We believe in his ability to advance the football club and enhance our growing reputation as a progressive, forward-thinking organisation and we look forward to working closely with him, in what we hope will be an exciting new chapter at the club.”O’Driscoll has been out of work since leaving Liverpool, where he was assistant manager, in October after Brendan Rodgers’ sacking. Prior to his four months at Anfield O’Driscoll had been England Under-19 manager.He guided Bournemouth to League One in 2003 and earned promotion to the Championship with Doncaster in 2008 – beating Leeds in the play-off final – while O’Driscoll also had brief spells at Nottingham Forest and Bristol City. He worked with former Walsall assistant Richard O’Kelly – who followed Smith to Brentford – at Bournemouth, Doncaster and Bristol City and is understood to have spent time with the Saddlers during O’Kelly’s spell at the Banks’s Stadium.O’Driscoll will take charge for the first time when the Saddlers, third in League One, host Port Vale at the Banks’s Stadium on Sunday.Smith joined Brentford after almost five years in charge at Walsall. 1
1 Juan Mata Everton are considering an audacious move for Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata.The Spaniard’s future at Old Trafford is up in the air at the moment following the arrival of Jose Mourinho and he could be shown the exit door.The attacking midfielder would not be short of offers, however, with clubs from across Europe keeping tabs on the situation.One of those, according to Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, is Everton as new manager Ronald Koeman is a huge fan of Mata.The Toffees have money to spend too after selling John Stones to Manchester City in a deal which could eventually be worth £50m.As well as a potential move for Mata, Koeman is chasing a number of other signings before the transfer window shuts.Swansea defender Ashley Williams and Sunderland defender Lamine Kone are two of his top targets.
A notorious young Letterkenny criminal has been fined a total of €1,500 after appeairng in court on a series of driving offences.Matthew LaffertyMatthew Lafferty, 21, is currently in jail and is not due out until June, 2017. He appeared before Letterkenny District Court yesterday charged with a range of offences from giving a false name to driving without tax and insurance.Lafferty was stopped by Gardai on two occasions in both Letterkenny and Stranorlar on July 23rd and 24th earlier this year.On both occasions he gave the name and address of his brother Shane to Gardai.He undertook to give his tax and insurance details to Gardai within ten days but failed to do so.Lafferty pleaded guilty both offences when he appeared in handcuffs before Judge Pul Kelly yesterday.Solicitor Patsy Gallagher said he had known Lafferty for a number of years and could honestly say he was now trying to make an effort behind bars.He was working on the landing of his prison and also in the kitchen at times.He also revealed he was the subject of a serious incident in the prison which had disturbed him greatly and which was currently under investigation.Mr Gallagher said he saw for the first time that father-of-one Lafferty is trying to mend his ways and find a path in life for himself.Judge Paul Kelly asked Lafferty what he was doing to better his life and to change.Lafferty replied “I’m doing the time amn’t I?”Judge Kelly told the accused that it was unfortunate that he was in prison but that it was himself that was responsible for putting himself there.The court heard that the incidents occurred when Lafferty was already out on bail for other offences.He fined him a total of €1,500 for the driving offences and also disqualified him from driving for two years.NOTORIOUS CRIMINAL FINED €1,500 FOR DRIVING OFFENCES was last modified: December 16th, 2013 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:driving offencesLetterkenny District CourtMatthew Lafferty
This is the tragic Co Donegal businessman whose death is being probed by Gardai after a housefire.The late Jeffrey McLaughlinOptician Jeffrey McLaughlin, 42, was found dead outside a house at Malin Head in the early hours of Saturday.The popular father-of-three, was from Carndonagh on the Inishowen Peninsula, but lived in Derry. He was a well-known member of the local sub-aqua club.The fire was first spotted at the house in the townland of Carnmalin just after midnight.Fire tenders from both Carndonagh and Buncrana Fir station rushed to the scene.However Mr McLaughlin’s body was found outside a period later. Specialist Garda forensic officers from Dublin arrived at the scene yesterday to carry out a full investigation into the cause of the fire.Gardai at the scene of the housefire at Carnmalin yesterday. Copyright Northwest News Pics.Locals have reported hearing a loud explosion around midnight.The house was badly damaged in the fire with the roof and masonry completely destroyed.One theory is that gas canisters used by Mr McLaughlin during his diving pastime may have exploded.The State Pathologist is due to arrive on the scene to carry out a full post mortem. Specialist forensic officers could be seen sifting through the wreckage of the blaze today.Meanwhile Gardaí are appealing for witnesses or anyone with information on the fire and particularly those who were in the Carnmalin/Malin Head area between the hours of 8pm and midnight on Friday 31st October 2014, to contact them at Buncrana Garda Station on 074 9320540, or on the Garda Confidential Line 1800 666111 or any Garda Station.GARDAI PROBE DEATH OF WELL-KNOWN BUSINESSMAN IN HOUSEFIRE was last modified: November 3rd, 2014 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:CarndonaghdeathhousefireJeffrey McLaughlinMalin Head
GAA: Donegal minor manager Declan Bonner has been rocked this evening following the news that two of his players and two of his backroom team have been hit with TWO month bans following an incident during their Ulster MFC clash with Armagh.Donegal enjoyed a comfortable win over Armagh a fortnight ago in a comprehensive display at the Athletic Grounds.There was no incident on the pitch, but there was a fracas at half-time between Donegal players and staff with an Ulster official. It is believed the official at the centre of the row is from Tyrone and came into the dressing to tell Donegal they had exceeded the time required at half-time.What happened next is very unclear, but a row ensued between mentors, players and the official involved and it has resulted in Donegal losing TWO key players from eight weeks.Donegal County Board are expected to appeal the decision and tonight released a statement.“Following much media speculation this morning, CLG Dhún na nGall can confirm that we have received communication from Comhairle Uladh with regard to a disciplinary matter at half-time of the Minor Football Championship Quarter-Final game v Armagh on Sunday May 31st. “There will be no further comment at this time and CLG Dhun na nGall would respectfully request that consideration be given to the fact that names of underage players should not be speculated upon while consideration is being given to an appeal process.GAA: SHOCK AS DONEGAL MINOR STARS HIT WITH TWO MONTH BANS was last modified: June 9th, 2015 by Mark ForkerShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:armaghBansdonegalGAAHome-page SportincidentMFCnewsUlster
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NAPA — With eight of 16 practices in the books during the Napa portion of Raiders training camp, you’d think the team with the most rough and tumble reputation in the NFL would have had a dust-up or two.Yet even during the warmest weather after the morning fog burns off, the Raiders have kept their cool.Once upon a time, good friends such as Greg Biekert and Steve Wisniewski would fake a fight to get things going. It wasn’t uncommon for coaches to step back and allow real altercations to to …