Sports briefs, Nov. 27

Posted Nov. 27, 2011, at 8:51 p.m.
Last modified Nov. 27, 2011, at 11:29 p.m.

Bangor Y men’s leagues extend deadline

BANGOR — The Bangor Y open men’s and men’s over 40 basketball leagues have extended their registration deadline date one week to Thursday. Those wishing to enter a team may pick up an entry form at the Y in Bangor on Second Street.

Those seeking more information may contact Bob Cimbollek at 356-6787.

League play starts Sunday at Penobscot Job Corps Academy.

Illinois fires Zook after 0-6 collapse

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Illinois coach Ron Zook was fired Sunday after the Illini followed a 6-0 start to this season with a six-game losing streak.

Zook and the Illini finished off their collapse with a 27-7 defeat at Minnesota on Saturday.

“I believe we need new leadership to take the program to the level to compete for championships on a consistent basis,” Illinois Athletic Director Mike Thomas said in a statement released by the university. “This is an extremely competitive conference, and we are determined to go head-to-head with the very best.”

Thomas said the defensive coordinator Vic Koenning will take over as interim head coach while a search begins for Zook’s successor.

Zook wasn’t immediately available for comment but planned a press conference for late Sunday afternoon.

Zook finished 34-51 at Illinois. He took the 2007 team to the Rose Bowl and lost to USC. Last season’s squad beat Baylor in the Texas Bowl.

With six wins the Illini could still go to a bowl game. It would be their first back-to-back bowl appearances since 1991 and ’92.

Zook came to Illinois in 2005 after being fired in his third season at Florida. He replaced Ron Turner, now an Indianapolis Colts assistant coach.

The 2007 season was Zook’s high point at Illinois. The Illini were Big Ten runners-up and upset an undefeated Ohio State team in Columbus that was shooting for a perfect season and a national title.

But only two of Zook’s Illinois teams finished with winning records, 2007′s 9-4 squad and last year’s 7-6 Texas Bowl team.

Thomas praised Zook for the elevating Illinois — Zook took over after Turner produced four losing seasons in five years. But Thomas, who became AD just last summer, also alluded to Zook’s uneven tenure at Illinois.

Wales football manager Gary Speed dies aged 42

LONDON — Gary Speed, who took over as Wales football coach just 11 months ago after playing for his country a record 85 times, has died. He was 42.

The Football Association of Wales announced Speed’s death Sunday without giving the cause.

Local police said there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding Speed’s death.

Speed is survived by his wife and two children.

“We extend our sympathies and condolences to the family,” the FAW said in a statement. “We ask that everyone respects the family’s privacy at this very sad time.”

Speed, whose 85 caps is a Welsh record for an outfield player, had become Wales coach in December in a move long predicted by former teammates and commentators. Only goalkeeper Neville Southall, with 92 appearances, played more games for Wales.

The youngest member of Leeds’ 1991-92 title-winning midfield and the first player to reach 500 Premier League appearances, Speed was renowned as a dedicated professional and had just coached his native Wales to three straight wins.

Speed began his career as a skillful, speedy wide midfielder before maturing into a canny central player able to find space for his shots and headers with a well-timed late run into the area. He scored more than 100 goals across spells with Leeds, boyhood club Everton, Newcastle, Bolton and Sheffield United.

Speed became the first player to play in 500 Premier League games and held the all-time record with 535 until it was surpassed by goalkeeper David James in 2009. Ryan Giggs has also since passed the mark.

The midfielder also scored in every topflight season in which he played until dropping out of the Premier League in 2008 when he joined Sheffield United.

Last year, Queen Elizabeth II gave Speed the Member of the British Empire award in her annual Birthday Honors list for his services to football.

Former Togo goalkeeper among 6 dead in bus crash

LOME, Togo — Former Togo goalkeeper Charles Balogou was among six people killed when a bus carrying players and officials from a topflight club plunged into a ravine and caught fire.

Togo football federation spokesman Aime Ekpe said another 25 people from the Etoile Filante delegation — 19 of them players — plus the driver were injured in Saturday’s crash.

Ekpe said Sunday that club secretary general Christophe Dagdovi, deputy coach Isidore Kouma, a female reporter attached to the club, a cook and a team doctor were killed alongside Balogou in the accident in Glei, about 130 kilometers north of the capital Lome.

The federation later said eight of the 32 people who were traveling on the bus for Sunday’s league game in the city of Sokode were being treated for severe burns after the injured were taken to the military wing of the Lome Central Hospital.

Others had various injuries, which included broken limbs. Some of the players were “seriously injured,” Ekpe said.

Balogou was a Togo international in the 1970s. None of the other players involved were national team players.

Eyewitness accounts said the bus rolled several times as it crashed into the ravine after a tire was thought to have burst in Glei, near the central city of Atakpame.

Images on television showed the smoldering wreckage of the bus, which was almost completely burned to ashes. Some of the victims reportedly burned to death.

“We do not know how we managed to get out of the accident,” said one of the survivors, goalkeeper Mama Souleyman, in an interview with Togo state television from his hospital bed. “Most of the players got out of the bus before the officials could do so because they were all in the front row of the bus.

“The officials and technical staff were trapped … when the bus somersaulted several times and caught fire,” he said.

A delegation, led by sports minister Christophe Tchao, traveled to the accident site with an ambulance to evacuate the injured back to Lome on the orders of Togo President Faure Gnassingbe.

Memphis fires Larry Porter after 2nd season

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis fired head coach Larry Porter on Sunday morning after going 3-21 in two seasons leading his alma mater.

The university announced Porter’s dismissal in a release. Porter’s firing came just hours after Saturday’s 44-7 loss at Southern Mississippi, leaving the Tigers 2-10 this season. Fan interest in the program has been diminishing, including an estimated 2,500 for the Tigers’ home finale against Marshall on Nov. 17. That increased pressure for a change.

“The expectations for the 2011 season were to see marked improvement in the team,” Memphis Athletic Director R.C. Johnson said in a statement. “Now that the season has been completed, I do not feel that we have seen enough improvement for the future to justify keeping this football staff in place for another year.”

There was no immediate timetable for hiring Porter’s replacement. The university has scheduled a press conference for Monday. Johnson and University President Dr. Shirley Raines will discuss the future of the athletic program and a plan for naming a new coach “as quickly as possible,” according to the release.

Porter played running back at Memphis from 1990-93. He was hired Nov. 29, 2009, to replace Tommy West after a 2-10 season.

He came to Memphis after spending five years on the LSU coaching staff under Les Miles where he had a reputation as one of the top recruiters in the nation.

Those recruiting successes did not translate to coaching successes.

Pro boxer to be sentenced for Conn. beating

HARTFORD, Conn. — Professional boxer Matt Remillard is facing sentencing in the baseball bat beating of a man in Connecticut last year in what police say was a fight over a woman both men had dated.

The 25-year-old featherweight from Manchester is expected to be sentenced Tuesday to five years in prison. He pleaded no contest to first-degree assault in September.

Connecticut state police say Remillard pummeled Jordan Evans with a bat in Marlborough in July 2010, leaving Evans with a fractured skull, eye socket and hand. Doctors had to insert 100 stitches, more than two dozen screws and a plate into Evans’ head.

Remillard held the NABF and NABO featherweight titles until losing his first fight as a professional last March to Mikey Garcia in Atlantic City, N.J. His record is 23-1.

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