Sports Briefs1209

Posted Dec. 09, 2011, at 9:15 p.m.
Last modified Dec. 10, 2011, at 12:16 a.m.

 

UMaine football to air on ESPN GamePlan, ESPN3

ESPN has announced that Saturday’s NCAA Football Championship Subdivision national quarterfinal between the University of Maine and Georgia Southern will be shown on ESPN GamePlan in addition to ESPN3. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m.

ESPN3, an Internet feed, is available to Time Warner Cable subscribers with Internet access. ESPN GamePlan is a pay-per-view service.

A handful of Greater Bangor eateries are expected to show the game, so fans should call ahead to make sure.

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‘Skate with the Bears’ time changed

The Friends of Maine Hockey’s “Skate with the Bears” event is scheduled for Sunday from 2:30-4 p.m. at Alfond Arena in Orono.

Fans can skate with University of Maine players, have their picture taken and get autographs during the session. Coffee, hot chocolate and treats will be available.

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A’s send pitchers Cahill, Breslow, cash to D-backs

OAKLAND, Calif. — The NL West champion Arizona Diamondbacks added another front-line starter Friday and boosted their bullpen, acquiring pitchers Trevor Cahill, Craig Breslow and cash from the Oakland Athletics.

The A’s received starting pitcher Jarrod Parker, outfielder Collin Cowgill and reliever Ryan Cook in Friday’s trade — all players the A’s envision could be on the major league roster in 2012.

Arizona general manager Kevin Towers has been committed to winning with pitching since he took the job, and it paid off in his first season. Cahill will complement a talented rotation featuring 21-game winner Ian Kennedy and 16-game winner Daniel Hudson. Arizona won 94 games — 29 more than in 2010 — under manager Kirk Gibson on the way to a surprising division title over the 2010 World Series champion San Francisco Giants.

The Diamondbacks lost in the first round of the playoffs to Milwaukee in five games.

A’s GM Billy Beane, meanwhile, is in rebuilding mode with the hopes that the club will be able to build a new ballpark in San Jose and move out of the rundown Oakland Coliseum in a few years.

Cahill, who in April was rewarded with a five-year contract worth $30.5 million, went 12-14 with a 4.16 ERA in a team-high 34 starts. His deal from the A’s took him through all three of his arbitration-eligible seasons and first potential year of free agency.

It was a tough choice to part ways with the 23-year-old Cahill, a second-round draft pick in 2006 who started 2011 with six straight wins. He made his first All-Star team in 2010.

“It’s not easy to trade a guy like Trevor, or Craig, who have been a big part of our major league roster the past two seasons,” Oakland assistant general manager David Forst said. “Every so often we have to reshuffle the deck. It was a chance to get back a good package. We like what we got back. In addition to Jarrod, who’s a top-of-the-rotation guy, we got back two other major league-quality players who could impact our roster in 2012.”

Cahill made $500,000 in 2010. He is set to earn $3.5 million in 2012, $5.5 million in 2013, $7.7 million in 2014 and $12 million in 2015. There’s a $13 million club option for 2016 with a $300,000 buyout. If that option is exercised, Arizona can exercise a $13.5 million option for 2017 with a $500,000 buyout. The 2017 option price would escalate to $14 million if Cahill finishes among the top two in Cy Young Award voting in any year from 2011-16.

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Portland’s Oden gets new deal after setback

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Portland Trail Blazers and Greg Oden agreed to a restructured one-year contract after the oft-injured center had another setback during his rehabilitation from microfracture surgery on his left knee.

The new contract was announced Friday after the Blazers opened training camp. A day earlier, Oden’s agent reported the former No. 1 draft pick had agreed to the $8.9 million qualifying offer that Portland offered on June 29.

“We’re hopeful, but less confident that he will return to the court this season,” Blazers President Larry Miller said in a statement. “We’ve stood by Greg from the day he was drafted and we continue to do so now with this agreement.”

The 7-foot Oden hasn’t appeared in a game in two years. He is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent following this season.

The terms of the new deal were not announced, and the nature of the setback was not disclosed by the team. Oden was examined by doctors in Colorado on Thursday.

It was thought that Oden might be able to practice with the team on a limited basis when training camp opened on Friday. He wasn’t expected to play for the team until late January, at the earliest.

Portland selected Oden with the first pick in the 2007 draft, but the ex-Ohio State star had microfracture surgery on his right knee and waited until 2008 to make his NBA debut. He also broke his left kneecap and sat out much of the 2009-10 season.

Oden is averaging 9.4 points and 7.3 rebounds over 82 career games.

“I’m obviously disappointed with the setback, but I’m as determined as ever to return to the court,” Oden said in a statement released by the team. “I appreciate the support of the Trail Blazers and our fans and that they continue to stand behind me.”

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Kings re-sign Thornton on first day of free agency

Even though the Sacramento Kings are starting training camp a day later than most NBA teams, the franchise made sure it will have almost a full roster ready after a fast and furious start to free agency Friday.

The Kings re-signed shooting guard Marcus Thornton, finalized a deal for free agent center Chuck Hayes and completed rookie contracts for Jimmer Fredette, Tyler Honeycutt and Isaiah Thomas. The team also renounced the rights to center Samuel Dalembert, guard Pooh Jeter, swingman Marquis Daniels and forward Darnell Jackson.

By far the most pertinent — and expensive — move involved bolstering the backcourt.

Thornton’s deal is worth at least $31 million over four years, a person familiar with the decision said. The person spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press because the Kings don’t disclose contract terms.

“Marcus impressed us greatly last year and we just couldn’t wait to re-sign him,” Kings coach Paul Westphal said. “We made that a high priority and never felt it was in doubt. We’re really pleased to have one of the fine, young shooting guards in the league to be on our team for several years to come. It’s a great fit for him and us and was a high priority on our behalf.”

How Thornton’s role will change this season is unclear.

Thornton averaged 21.3 points in 23 games for the Kings after being acquired in a midseason trade with New Orleans. Tyreke Evans, the 2009-10 Rookie of the Year, is expected to move to shooting guard this season to make room for Fredette.

Fredette, the former BYU point guard who became one of college basketball’s most talked-about players last season, was acquired in a draft-day trade after being selected 10th overall by Milwaukee. The Kings are confident Evans can become a more prolific scorer at shooting guard, and Fredette’s skills are more suited to play the point.

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Illinois hires Beckman to replace Zook

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Tim Beckman has rebuilt a program before.

He inherited a mess when he took over at Toledo, where the Rockets had finished three straight losing seasons and were in the middle of a point-shaving scandal.

At Illinois, the 46-year-old Beckman isn’t walking into a gambling crisis but there are steep hills ahead.

The Illini are in the middle of a six-game losing streak that has given them an unwanted place in the record books. Much of an already unhappy fan base seemed initially underwhelmed by Beckman’s hiring. And one university trustee complained the school missed a chance to hire its first black head football coach.

But Beckman, coming from a MAC school where resources are limited and the Rose Bowl isn’t a possibility, insisted Friday that what’s ahead of him isn’t a rebuilding project.

“It’s not broken, it isn’t,” he told reporters after meeting with Illinois’ players. “This is a gold mine. You can win at the University of Illinois.”

Beckman will be paid $9 million over five years plus potential bonuses for bowl appearances and other benchmarks.

He replaces Ron Zook, who was fired last month by athletic director Mike Thomas after seven seasons. Illinois started this season 6-0, but carries that six-game losing streak into the Dec. 31 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl against UCLA. The Illini are the first FBS team to open the regular-season with six straight wins, and close it with six consecutive losses.

Thomas said he hired Beckman from a field of five or six serious candidates — he wouldn’t name the others — because he believes he can win Big Ten titles. The athletic director, answering questions about fans on local talk radio and Internet message boards who said Beckman wasn’t a big enough name, said he heard much the same at the University of Cincinnati, where he hired a pair of MAC coaches that produced consistent winners, Brian Kelly, now at Notre Dame, and current Bearcats coach Butch Jones, whose team is 9-3 this season.

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Kansas introduces former Notre Dame coach Weis

LAWRENCE, Kan. — Charlie Weis knew little about the Kansas football program when his phone rang Wednesday morning. He knew that the Jayhawks won the Orange Bowl a few years ago, and that they finished 2-10 this season under Turner Gill, but that was about it.

When Athletic Director Sheahon Zenger began to talk to him about the job, though, Weis realized that he was hearing an opportunity too good to pass up: The chance to build a long-suffering program into a winner, and prove that his failed attempt at Notre Dame was a distant memory.

Weis was introduced as the Jayhawks’ coach during a news conference Friday, about 24 hours after he accepted the job and just a couple days after he emerged as the leading candidate.

“It was too good of an opportunity,” he said, “being able to go into a place that was down low and being able to see it through the rise back up top. Anyone who is goal driven in anything, whether it was a startup, taking a business and doing good — this is what I do.

“The team was 2-10 and you’re going to be the one that’s directly involved with taking that team and moving it to the other end of the spectrum.”

Terms of Weis’ contract have not been finalized, but Zenger said it would be a five-year deal that pays Weis about $2.5 million annually, almost all of which is guaranteed.

That’s a hefty price for a school that parted ways with Mark Mangino just a few years ago, and is still on the hook for about $6 million on the five-year, $10 million deal Gill had signed.

Zenger said he had a list of about a dozen names when he began his search, and he talked to “eight to 10″ on the phone. When he finally came around to discussing Weis, it was only after he had spoken to numerous people in the coaching profession that could vouch for him.

“He has an incredible football mind, he is disciplined, principled and a tireless worker. We believe he is the right coach at the right time to help Kansas raise the bar and compete in the Big 12,” Zenger said, adding that Weis’ name recognition was “icing on the cake.”

If the Jayhawks were hoping for a boost in interest, they apparently got it.

The school announced season-ticket packages on Friday to coincide with Weis’ hiring, and several hundred new orders had been placed. An image of Weis already topped the athletic department website, and a bold banner proclaimed a “new era” for Kansas football.

— From Staff and Wire Reports

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