Sports Briefs

Posted: Wednesday, February 27, 2002

Nikolaevsk boys top Rams

Peter Tipikin scored 28 points and Fedosa Efimov chipped in with 20 points Monday as the Nikolaevsk boys basketball team topped the Anchorage Homeschool Rams 79-58 at Chapman Elementary School.

The game was played at Chapman because a broken electrical line forced Nikolaevsk from its own gym.

Derek Stokes had 19 points to pace Anchorage's attack.


Homeschool Rams 12 12 13 20 --58

Nikolaevsk 22 32 16 9 --79

RAMS (58) -- Hemingway 6 2-4 14, Ridley 1 1-2 3, Hufford 2 0-0 4, De. Stokes 7 4-6 19, J. Perry 0 0-0 0, Da. Stokes 3 1-1 7, Morrison 4 3-5 11, Moore 0 0-0 0. Totals -- 23 11-18 58.

NIKOLAEVSK (79) -- F. Efimov 9 2-2 20, Yakunin 0 0-0 0, Nikitenko 8 1-2 19, D. Kuzmin 0 0-0 0, S. Kuzmin 0 0-2 0, Basargin 0 0-0 0, Usoltsef 2 0-0 4, T. Efimov 3 2-3 8, Tipikin 9 9-11 28, Bailey 0 0-0 0, Sawyer 0 0-0 0, Kalugin 0 0-0 0. Totals -- 31 14-20 79.

3-point goals -- Rams 0; Warriors 0. Total fouls -- Rams 14, Nikolaevsk 15. Fouled out -- Morrison.

Lemieux says season-long pain isn't getting better

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins star Mario Lemieux said Tuesday he has had severe hip pain since training camp -- a problem not cured by surgery -- and he is uncertain how much he will be able to play during the rest of the season.

Despite sitting out for two months, Lemieux said the pain in his right hip is nearly as bad as when he was hurt in September. He also isn't certain if more surgery will help.

''Right now, we're still trying to find out where the pain is coming from, but it's difficult because there are tendons, ligaments and muscles involved and it's a tough area to pinpoint,'' said Lemieux, who had surgery Oct. 29. ''Rest would certainly help, but there's not much time to rest.''

Lemieux will play Wednesday against Los Angeles as the Penguins -- currently well back in the Eastern Conference playoff race -- begin a stretch of 24 games in 45 days. After that, he will decide his status from game to game.

Blues lose Tkachuk for week

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- St. Louis Blues forward Keith Tkachuk will miss at least a week because of a deep thigh bruise he got playing for the United States at the Olympics.

Tkachuk started the gold-medal game on Sunday, but was forced to watch the last two periods of his team's 5-2 loss to Canada when the injury flared up in the first period.

He rejoined the Blues in Vancouver on Monday night, but flew back to St. Louis Tuesday morning for further tests.

''It looks like we'll have to give him a little rest here and get a clear idea of the extended period that he will have to be off the ice,'' Blues coach Joel Quenneville said.

Richardson lashes out at critics

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- A day after Nolan Richardson complained about unfair treatment by his critics, a university official said the school would ''work its way through this matter'' with the coach.

Richardson on Monday angrily told reporters he was closing practices and would not take their calls at home, saying he was answerable only to university officials -- not fans or the media.

University spokeswoman Rebecca Wood said Tuesday that Chancellor John White would meet with the coach to ''find out where he is coming from.''

Later in the day, however, another school spokesman, Roger Williams, and White's administrative assistant, Gail Moore, said no meeting was scheduled. They said Richardson's remarks would be addressed somehow, but would not elaborate.

''The university will work its way through this matter in the appropriate way and in the appropriate time,'' Williams said.

Richardson, who won the national championship in 1994 and took Arkansas to the title game the next year, has led the Razorbacks into the postseason 15 of the last 16 seasons. This year, however, they are 13-13, and could miss the postseason for the first time since his first year at Arkansas in 1985.

His frustration boiled over Monday, when he complained about news coverage and noted that only white reporters were at the news conference in Fayetteville.

''When I look at all of you people in this room, I see no one look like me, talk like me or act like me,'' he said. ''Now, why don't you recruit? Why don't the editors recruit like I'm recruiting?''

Richardson, the only black among the Fayetteville campus' 17 head coaches, also said he doesn't expect to be treated differently just because of his race.

Enron asks bankruptcy judge for more time

HOUSTON -- Enron Corp. asked a New York judge overseeing its bankruptcy case for more time to decide whether to honor its naming rights agreement with the Houston Astros for Enron Field.

The bankrupt former energy giant has a 30-year, $100 million rights agreement with the Astros.

In a motion filed this month, the Astros said they wanted to be let out of their 1999 agreement because the team has been materially and adversely affected by the negative publicity surrounding the company's bankruptcy.

''The naming rights agreement does not contain any provision that would allow (the Astros) to terminate the contract based upon the current controversies surrounding Enron's financial affairs,'' Enron said Tuesday in its objection to the Astros' motion.

Enron, calling the Astros' complaints ''nebulous and unsubstantiated,'' disputed the team's claims that the naming rights have no value to the company because it won't be able to reorganize.

Closing set for Wednesday, changes to follow

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Just before the Yawkey Trust was to announce the successful bidder for the Boston Red Sox, members of John Henry's group guessed who that would be.

''People threw in a dollar,'' said Larry Lucchino, a member of the group. ''Nobody bet on us.''

Barely two months later, the new owners could take control of the team today. The speedy process from the pessimism of Dec. 20 to passing papers will end once bankers and lawyers complete their work.

Henry, who has signed final documents for the closing, hopes the transfer can be completed Wednesday, although it could run over to Thursday.

At the closing, ownership will pass from the Yawkey Trust to Henry's group for $660 million, plus $40 million in assumed debt. Then it can stop tiptoeing around training camp and the issues and start making personnel changes.

General manager Dan Duquette is expected to be the first to go, a move that could come this week. The Henry group has done little to dampen speculation that Duquette will be replaced, perhaps by vice president of baseball operations Mike Port on an interim bases.

Lucchino, the incoming president, said he doesn't anticipate wholesale changes immediately.

Manager Joe Kerrigan was 17-26 in his first major league managerial job after taking over for the fired Jimy Williams late last season.

''You have to do a little bit of diagnosis when you're assessing the situation,'' Lucchino said in an interview at his spring training office, ''but, mostly, we're trying to look forward.''

Kerrigan said Tuesday he had ''a good dinner'' -- both the food and the conversation -- with Lucchino on Monday night. But he said he wasn't told he'd be the manager on Opening Day and didn't ask.

''I'm not that insecure of a person where I have to go and ask every day, 'Do I still have a job?' '' Kerrigan said. ''I haven't even thought about it. Not even a wasted brain cell.

''You guys must think I stay up late at night until three, four o'clock in the morning, tossing and turning, worrying about whether I got a job or not. I got a job.''

Kerrigan is more forthcoming in interviews than his predecessor, a trait the incoming owners espouse. And he said they've been supportive in conversations with him.

Duquette also said early in camp that Henry's group praised his offseason acquisitions. But his aloof style is at odds with the new emphasis.

For the first time in three days, Duquette was seen at the Red Sox camp Tuesday. But he showed up after the team's workout -- and after Henry and Lucchino left -- and stayed for less than an hour.

Outgoing owner John Harrington rarely attended spring training and almost never talked with fans. Henry and Lucchino have been at many workouts, signing autographs and chatting amiably with spectators.

''We've certainly made an effort to reach out because we were well aware of the criticism that the previous administration was less available,'' Lucchino said.

''We can't comment on the validity of that and we have very positive feelings for John Harrington and the previous administration,'' he added. ''I don't want to be critical of the existing administration. I'll just say that everybody does things a little differently.

''We have the advantage of being new and the sort of energy that comes from being new.''

Lucchino said his group has planned personnel changes -- which he said are inevitable -- but can't announce moves until the sale is completed.

''Normally, new owners come with new people,'' three-time Cy Young award winner Pedro Martinez said. ''I wouldn't be surprised to be traded myself if they don't like me.''

Don't count on it.

One change that has helped is improved chemistry in the clubhouse. Gone are Carl Everett, who clashed with both managers last season, and players who complained about playing time.

''I've only heard obviously about the mini-melodramas that developed late in the season,'' Lucchino said. ''So far this spring has been mercifully free of any of that kind of stuff.''

He said that once the closing is completed, the team will address personnel changes and the issue of sprucing up Fenway Park -- including the addition of several hundred seats and more concession stands -- in time for the April 1 season opener.

Then there will be greater focus on expansion and renovation of Fenway or construction of a new stadium.

''There's an old saying, 'You've got to deal with the wolf closest to the sled,' so that's what you have to deal with, the things that really have to be dealt with immediately,'' Lucchino said.

On Dec. 20, the immediate issue for Henry's group was dinner. Its members changed from business to casual attire, assuming they were out of the running. After all, they hadn't heard all day from the sellers, who were about to announce the winning bidder.

''About two minutes before they went out there, there was a phone call from the Red Sox lawyers to our lawyer,'' Lucchino said. ''He came in the room with his thumb up.''

That's the sign Red Sox personnel hope to get this week.

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