Sports Briefs

Posted: Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Bettman says obstruction crackdown worked

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. The NHL's much-publicized attempt to create more offensive flow and eliminate the clutching and grabbing that slow its stars was a success, commissioner Gary Bettman said Tuesday.

But, at a Stanley Cup finals news conference dominated by questions about whether the NHL is doing enough to make the sport more exciting and more attractive to TV viewers, Bettman said it remains a work in progress.

Bettman and NHL director of hockey operations Colin Campbell said changing the habits of NHL coaches and officials can't be accomplished in a single season.

''There was a big difference in the game,'' Campbell said. ''But it's going to take a while to change the coaches and officials. It is better and it will continue to get better.''

Baseball's disciplinarian investigating Schilling

NEW YORK Major league baseball's disciplinarian is looking into Curt Schilling's destruction of a camera used to evaluate umpires.

The Arizona pitcher smashed part of the Questec Umpire Evaluation System last Saturday night during a loss to San Diego and said umpires have told him they are changing their strike zones to match the evaluations of the machine.

''I'm investigating it in the fullest,'' Bob Watson, baseball's vice president of on-field operations, said Tuesday night. ''I haven't finished my investigation yet.''

Watson won't complete his inquiry until Thursday at the earliest.

''All I'll say at this point is they're better off investigating the Questec system instead of Curt Schilling,'' players' association lawyer Gene Orza said.

Larry Gibson, a lawyer for the World Umpires Association, said that umpires had complained about the operators of the system in Phoenix this year. Gibson said a former Triple-A umpire ran the system during Arizona home games last year, but that different people were operating Questec this year at Bank One Ballpark.

Sandy Alderson, executive vice president of baseball operations in the commissioner's office, said the change in operators wasn't significant, that only a working knowledge of baseball and computers was necessary.

''If you are a baseball fan and subscribe to AOL, you can operate the system,'' Alderson said. ''It's not about the system. It's not about the umpires the umpires have never been more accurate and more consistent about the strike zone and the rule book than they are today.''

''What this is about is about is Curt Schilling wanting pitches that are balls, called strikes. If that's what he wants, he should go to the rules committee. Otherwise, he should stop whining and go about his business.''

Guerrero sidelined with back injury

MIAMI Montreal Expos outfielder Vladimir Guerrero is day-to-day with a muscle strain in his back.

Guerrero was not in the starting lineup Tuesday night against the Florida Marlins, but the game was postponed by rain.

ACC to begin site visits to Miami, Syracuse, BC

DAVIE, Fla. The University of Miami is moving closer to a decision on joining the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The school's executive committee of the board of trustees will meet Wednesday to discuss moving from the Big East to the ACC. The university also will host the first of three ACC site visits Friday, the next step in a likely relocation that could drastically change the landscape of college athletics. Miami's executive committee will eventually vote on whether to join the ACC, but university officials don't expect it before the site visit.

Rockets owner, GM talk with Larry Brown

HOUSTON Houston Rockets owner Les Alexander and general manager Carroll Dawson continued their coaching search Tuesday by having dinner with Larry Brown and his wife in New York.

''It went very well, we talked a lot of basketball and exchanged ideas,'' Dawson told The Associated Press late Tuesday. ''We're just in the second day of this process and he just resigned yesterday but it was a good get-together. It was enlightening to us all.''

Brown, who resigned Monday after six years as coach of the Philadelphia 76ers, was the third coach interviewed by Dawson and Alexander in their search to replace Rudy Tomjanovich, who stepped down last week after 12 seasons as head coach.

''I don't think he's ready to say what he's going to do and we're not ready make that decision,'' Dawson said, referring to Brown. ''We didn't get into that. There's a lot of people out there looking for coaches.''

The Houston Chronicle cited unidentified sources in a story in its online edition as saying Alexander had not decided going into Tuesday's interview that Brown was his favorite to succeed Tomjanovich and he also was considering Mike Dunleavy and Jeff Van Gundy, whom Alexander and Dawson met Monday.

Brown's agent, Joe Glass, told Houston television station KRIV that Brown said the meeting went well.

''He said they exchanged ideas back and forth and both parties said they are going to keep in touch,'' Glass said.

That there are four coaching vacancies in the NBA should only help the Rockets.

''We interviewed two coaches yesterday and we're getting a lot of attention, but I don't think there is a great rush,'' Dawson said earlier Tuesday. ''It's a move to get the right guy and I think it's very important to this team that we get the right man.

''This is one of those years when there are lots of coaches available,'' Dawson added.

Brown left the 76ers after six seasons as coach. He has compiled the seventh-most wins in NBA history in stints with the Nuggets, Clippers, Spurs, Nets, Pacers and 76ers.

Brown said he thought the 76ers needed new direction but he had not lost his passion for coaching and intended to return next season.

Dawson said he would meet with Alexander on Wednesday to decide the next move in their search.

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