Sports Briefs

Posted: Tuesday, April 01, 2003

Pitt's Howland meets with UCLA, then with players

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh coach Ben Howland met with his players on Monday, but gave no indication whether he was in line to take over at UCLA.

Howland, who called UCLA his ''dream job'' last week, declined to speak with reporters after meeting with his team. Julius Page, a junior guard, said ''No comment'' as he and several teammates rushed away from the meeting looking glum-faced.

Several players said previously that Howland's loss would be devastating to a basketball program that had only one winning season in six years before Howland was hired in 1999.

Howland met over the weekend with UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero, but did not say if he was offered the job. He is believed to be the Bruins' top candidate, and he was the first to interview.

Howland, a Southern California native, was rumored to be interested in UCLA even before Steve Lavin was fired last month. Howland said last week, even before Pitt was eliminated from the NCAA tournament, that he hoped to be considered by UCLA.

Howland is believed to want his entire Pitt staff to accompany him if he makes a move.

''Given that my family roots are in California and my parents live there, I felt compelled to look at the potential opportunity,'' Howland said in a statement issued Monday by Pittsburgh. ''I want to emphasize that I have a tremendous situation at the University of Pittsburgh. We are building something very special here and it would take an extraordinary set of circumstances for me to leave.''

Marc Boehm, Pitt's interim athletic director issued his own statement claiming UCLA didn't seek permission before talking to Howland. In the statement, Boehm said, ''Coach Howland has a contract with the University of Pittsburgh through 2009. He has consistently stated that he plans to honor that contract and we hope that will be the case.''

Guerin will miss at least two playoff games

IRVING, Texas -- Bill Guerin's severely bruised right thigh is getting better, but the Dallas Stars forward will miss at least two playoff games because of the injury.

''There's still a bit of pain, but the wound has healed,'' Guerin said on Monday. ''The first two games are out. After that, it's day-by-day. When the leg is healthy, I'll play. That's what I'm shooting for.''

Guerin underwent emergency surgery on March 1 to relieve a buildup of blood in the thigh. He had 25 goals and was second on the Stars with 50 points when he was hurt in a collision with Ottawa defenseman Chris Phillips on Feb. 27.

Another medical procedure was necessary on March 24 to break up scar tissue and ease the range of motion in Guerin's right leg. The right wing must wait another 10 to 14 days before he can even begin skating.

''I like his chances of returning for the playoffs,'' team physician Dr. Dan Cooper said. ''And we plan to be (in the playoffs) for a while.''

Guerin is now able to ride a bike and is lifting weights to maintain upper body strength in addition to his rehab work, which he said he's doing all the time.

''Since (the second procedure), it's been night and day as far as motion is concerned,'' Guerin said.

The bruise, described by Cooper as a crush of the muscle, caused severe internal bleeding that cut off circulation in the muscle.

''He's progressing well,'' Stars general manager Doug Armstrong said.

Dallas went 8-4-0-2 in its first 14 games without the 32-year-old Guerin, who signed a five-year deal with the Stars last summer worth about $45 million. During his absence, the Stars have clinched the Pacific Division title and are chasing the top playoff seed in the Western Conference.

''The frustrating thing is not being in the loop,'' Guerin said. ''Not feeling emotionally part of the game, that's tough.''

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