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Sports briefs for April 11, 2013

By Wire Service Reports, Special to the BDN

Mihalich leaves Niagara for Hofstra job

Hofstra University named Joe Mihalich as its basketball coach on Wednesday.

Mihalich, 56, agreed to a six-year contract, according to the university.

“Joe Mihalich has been a winner at every stop in his highly successful career,” Hofstra athletic director Jeff Hathaway said. “He has worked his way up the ladder through hard work and dedication, and his work ethic has prepared him to lead our program. Hofstra University is fortunate to land such a dynamic educator, coach and leader.”

Mihalich has the most basketball coaching wins the history of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. In 15 years at Niagara, he finished with a 265-203 record and led the Purple Eagles to two NCAA tournament berths. Mihalich was named the MAAC coach of the year this year after guiding Niagara to the conference regular-season title.

He replaces Mo Cassara, who was fired after three seasons. Hofstra has not reached the NCAA tournament since 2001 and went 7-25 this season. Off the court, the program was hurt this year when six players were involved in off-court incidents.

Zeller to leave Indiana for NBA

Cody Zeller will follow Indiana teammate Victor Oladipo and declare his intentions to enter the 2013 NBA draft, The Indianapolis Star reported Wednesday.

Zeller, a second-team All-American who completed his sophomore season in March when the Hoosiers bowed out of the NCAA Tournament with a loss to Syracuse in the Sweet 16, is expected to make an announcement at 4 p.m. ET.

Zeller’s decision was expected despite questions about the 7-foot center’s physical readiness for the pros. Still, he considered a top-10 pick by draft experts.

In two seasons at Indiana, Zeller scored 1,157 points in 72 games. He averaged 16.1 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.

Hurd to plead guilty to drug conspiracy charge

Former NFL receiver Sam Hurd will plead guilty on Thursday to a federal drug conspiracy charge, according to reports.

Hurd, whose case is scheduled to go to trial on Monday, could face up to 10 years to life in prison and a $10 million fine, or he could receive probation. He is being held in jail without bond.l.

Hurd’s attorney, Jay Ethington, told WFAA-TV in Dallas that Hurd, 27, will plead guilty to conspiracy to possess cocaine and marijuana with intent to distribute.

The charges stem from an arrest outside a Chicago-area steakhouse in December 2011 when Hurd allegedly purchased a kilogram of cocaine from an undercover officer and wanted to buy large quantities of coke an marijuana for distribution.

Hurd left the Dallas Cowboys in 2011 after five seasons in Dallas to sign a three-year, $5.15 million contract with the Chicago Bears. He had 53 career catches for 739 yards and two touchdowns.

Jeter takes some hacks, grounders

Injured New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter took batting practice for the first time in nearly three weeks, fielded grounders and ran on the field at the team’s minor-league complex in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday.

Jeter is working his way back from a broken left ankle and subsequent ankle surgery last October. He hasn’t played in a game since he experienced soreness in the ankle after four at-bats as a designated hitter in a minor-league game during spring training on March 23.

The 38-year-old Yankees captain took four rounds of batting practice on Wednesday, played catch, took ground balls at shortstop and made throws to first base.

For the second straight day, Jeter ran between the foul lines in the outfield grass at less than full speed.

Injured center fielder Curtis Granderson joined Jeter for the workout. Granderson caught line drives and fouls balls in the outfield while wearing a brace to protect the broken right forearm he suffered at the beginning of spring training. He hopes to begin throwing Thursday.

“Everything’s looking good,” Granderson said, according to

Wallace to Raiders as backup QB

The Oakland Raiders will sign quarterback Seneca Wallace to a contract, reported Wednesday.

Wallace, a longtime backup and part-time starter for the Seattle Seahawks and the Cleveland Browns during his career, would back up recently acquired Matt Flynn in Oakland. Wallace did not play in the NFL last season.

The Raiders decided on Wallace, 32, after several quarterbacks recently worked out for the team. Among those was Tyler Thigpen, whom the Seahawks considered before settling on Brady Quinn as their backup to Russell Wilson. Seattle also reportedly had interest in Wallace.

The addition of a backup makes quarterback Terrelle Pryor’s status uncertain in Oakland. The former Ohio State quarterback has struggled in brief appearances with the Raiders, but it’s possible the Raiders would look to Wallace to mentor Pryor.

Crisp belts homer in fourth straight game

The A’s are on an early-season power surge … led by their leadoff man.

Coco Crisp, who hit 11 homers last season, has hit one in each of the A’s past four games, all wins. Oakland, in fact, has won six in a row to jump out in front of the AL West, the division the team won on the very final day of the season last year — and the only day the A’s held first place at all in 2012.

Homers have put the A’s in first early, though. The team is tied for the major-league lead with 15, fueled by Crisp’s four and three by shortstop Jed Lowrie.

On Tuesday night at Anaheim, Oakland got the daily homer from Crisp in the second inning, and in the seventh inning, with the A’s trailing 5-4, John Jaso delivered his first career pinch-hit homer, a three-run shot off Kevin Jepsen.

Winfield near deal with Seahawks

Antoine Winfield is close to a deal with the Seattle Seahawks, who envision the former Minnesota Vikings’ starter as a nickel cornerback.

ESPN’s Ed Werder reported the deal was close. The Seahawks have been aggressive in player acquisition all offseason, and added Winfield’s former teammate, wide receiver Percy Harvin, via trade while also signing defensive ends Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett.

Winfield turns 36 in June. He was released by the Vikings in March to clear his $7.5 million salary from the books, and had drawn interest from the Redskins and Buccaneers in free agency.

The Seahawks typically prefer tall, long-armed cornerbacks and expect to keep Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner as their starters with Winfield filling a third cornerback role.

A first-round pick in 1999, Winfield played the first five years of his career with the Buffalo Bills. He signed a six-year deal with the Vikings in 2004.

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