Sports Briefs

Posted: Wednesday, November 07, 2001

Jason Williams a unanimous preseason All-America

Jason Williams, who led Duke to the national championship last season, was a unanimous selection Tuesday to The Associated Press preseason All-America team, the first player on every ballot since 1996.

The junior guard was joined on the team by Stanford's Casey Jacobsen, like Williams a returning first-team All-American; Missouri's Kareem Rush; Frank Williams of Illinois; and Kentucky's Tayshaun Prince, the lone senior selected.

Jason Williams was on each of the 72 ballots from the national media panel that selects the weekly college basketball poll, becoming the first unanimous preseason pick since Tim Duncan of Wake Forest five years ago.

Food poisoning sidelines Mourning

MIAMI -- Miami Heat center Alonzo Mourning was held out of Tuesday night's game against the Seattle SuperSonics because of food poisoning.

Mourning, who sat out 69 games last year with a kidney disorder, missed the team's shootaround after experiencing flu-like symptoms overnight.

Team spokesman Tim Donovan said Mourning's food poisoning is unrelated to his kidney condition, known as focal glomerulosclerosis.

Saints fine tackle $25,000 for rampage

NEW ORLEANS -- Kyle Turley's $25,000 fine wasn't as bad as it could have been. New Orleans Saints coach Jim Haslett originally thought about cutting the tackle.

Before the Saints fined Turley on Tuesday, Haslett also considered suspending him. But the fine was no slap on the wrist.

Turley was fined for conduct detrimental to the team during Sunday's game against the New York Jets. Turley also agreed to undergo counseling at the team's request.

Turley attacked Jets safety Damien Robinson when Robinson grabbed the face mask of Saints quarterback Aaron Brooks and twisted it. Turley ripped Robinson's helmet off and threw it down field, then made an obscene gesture. His actions got him tossed out of the game. They also drew a 15-yard penalty that disrupted the Saints' final chance to tie or win the game. The Saints lost 16-9.

Connecticut still No. 1 in women's hoops

From one season to the next, it hardly ever changes for Connecticut. The Huskies always seem to be No. 1 in women's basketball.

UConn led the final Associated Press women's poll last season and, by and overwhelming margin, the Huskies remained at the top Tuesday in the preseason poll for 2001-02.

It all starts with the talent coach Geno Auriemma assembles year after year. Three key players are gone from last season's Final Four team, yet the Huskies are still loaded.

''We've got as good a first five as anyone in the country,'' Auriemma said.

Most of The AP's national media panel agreed. Connecticut, 32-3 last season, received 31 of 45 first-place votes and had 1,102 points -- 70 more than No. 2 Tennessee.

This is the third straight year Connecticut has started the season at No. 1 and the fourth time since 1995. But Auriemma said this team still has to prove itself, and he sees a long list of national championship contenders.

''I don't think it's as clear cut going into the season as to who the favorite should be this year,'' Auriemma said. ''I'm sure there are plenty of other schools who feel they deserve to be No. 1.''

Connecticut no longer has All-Americans Shea Ralph and Svetlana Abrosimova, and center Kelly Schumacher also is gone. But the Huskies had to learn to play without Ralph and Abrosimova after they were injured last season and they still made it to the Final Four.

Point guard Sue Bird is back to run the show and she'll have plenty of options on the floor with Swin Cash, Tamika Williams, Asjha Jones and Diana Taurasi.

Williams is not playing at the moment. The 6-foot-2 senior has a condition that causes pain and numbness in her left arm, and it's not known when she'll return.

''Once we get Tamika back, there's no doubt in my mind that our five starters are all going to be on the same page,'' Auriemma said. ''When the five of them were on the court together early in practice, we looked like it was January.''

Tennessee, which has been No. 1 in the preseason poll three times, had five first-place votes and 1,032 points.

The Lady Vols' big three of Tamika Catchings, Semeka Randall and Kristen Clement have moved on, but coach Pat Summitt still has veterans Michelle Snow, Kara Lawson and Gwen Jackson and a freshman class headed by national player of the year Shyra Ely.

Three teams split the remaining first-place votes. No. 3 Vanderbilt received six, No. 4 Oklahoma had two and No. 5 Duke got one. Vanderbilt finished nine points behind Tennessee.

Louisiana Tech was sixth, followed by Texas Tech, Iowa State, Stanford and North Carolina State. Stanford was the only team in the Top 10 that was not in the final poll last season.

Purdue, the national runner-up last season, was voted into the No. 11 spot. Then it was Colorado, Florida, Baylor and defending NCAA champion Notre Dame, followed by Georgia, Michigan, Old Dominion, Washington and George Washington.

Penn State, Arizona State, Maryland, Colorado State and Utah held the final five spots.

The No. 15 ranking for Notre Dame was the second lowest in the preseason poll for the defending champion. Purdue started at No. 23 after winning the 1999 title.

Notre Dame lost national player of the year Ruth Riley, plus starters Niele Ivey and Kelley Siemon.

Other members of the Top 25 that did not appear in the final poll last season were Michigan, Old Dominion, Washington, George Washington, Maryland and Colorado State.

Maryland made the poll for first time since Jan. 4, 1994. Colorado State last appeared in the 1998-99 season.

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