classifieds 3 I [lBXT*«-3«*.««4«M* £ \ ^:1 Slii 3SI ysSi.' p3M ™^: telSl W:=sf8 : Sia= j " iSsfcs gBgKi Classifieds inside Thursday, October 24, 2002 — Page 15 SPORTS Panthers picked as favorite By JOE LAP01NTE New York Times News Service In recent seasons, the Pittsburgh basketball program has improved from one of the worst in the Big East Conference to one of the best. This season, the upgrade is in facilities, from an outmoded field house to a suite-ringed modern arena. "The best tiling about it is that it is sold out," Coach Ben liowland said of the new 12,500-seat Petersen Events Center. "With the new building and all the attention, it's exciting and challenging: This is the first year I've actually had people who want to talk to me." Win or lose, people will watch and discuss the Panthers this season. "Last year we snuck up on people," Ontario Lett, a senior forward, said. "This year everybody's going to look forward to playing us." Lett, Howland and plenty of other people spoke at Big East media day Wednesday at Madison Square Garden in New York. Lett is one of five starters returning to a team that was 29-6 overall and 13-3 in the conference last season. The overall victory total is a team record. The most important of the returning Panthers is Brandin Knight, a senior guard who was a Big East co- player of the year last season and has been chosen this season as the preseason player of the year in a vote by conference coaches. Knight, recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, resumed practicing last week and is expected to be ready when the Panthers open their season at home on Nov. 23 against crosstown rival Duquesne. Last season, in leading Pittsburgh to the Big East tournament championship game, Knight averaged 15.6 points and 7.2 assists a game as the Panthers won the West Division but lost the tournament tide in double overtime to Connecticut. Tie injured his. knee in that game but played three more games until Pittsburgh was eliminated by Kent State in the NCAA tournament. "It was kind of painful; by the end of June I told them there had to be something wrong," Knight said of the injured knee. "I was concerned." The surgery luly 2 removed pieces of cartilage, he said, and now "I'm feeling good, a little better than I thought I would; it's relatively pain free." Howland said he would like to rest Knight, a 6-footer from East Orange, N.J., a little more this season, particularly in non-conference games early in the season. That might give them more time to talk about strategy on the bench, "I listen to his suggestions," Mow- land said of Knight. "It's like having another coach out there. lie's a classic point guard — pass first, ,shoot second." Lett said of Knight: "He's not really that fast, but he's deceptive. He can shoot well. He's smart. His basketball IQ is really high. That's what gives him the advantage over other guards." But Knight has plenty of competition at that position in what is a guard-centric conference. Among the other top guards are Troy Bel! of Boston College, Taliek Brown of Connecticut, Chris Thomas of Notre Dame, Marcus Hatten of St. John's, Gary Buchanan of Villanova and Andre Barrett of Seton Hall. When asked about all the good guards, Howland said it was not just a Big East trend but also a national reality that is a result of the demand from professional teams for large players at a young age to play center and forward. "Anyone who is 7-foot, who can play, goes straight to the NBA/' liowland said. "It's a mistake at times. If PatrickEwingwas coming out now, would he be going to Georgetown or to the NBA?" The conference coaches picked Pittsburgh and Connecticut to repeat as division champions. Most preseason rankings from basketball publications list Pittsburgh as the best team in the Big East and as high as third in the country. Connecticut and Villanova are forecast as other Big East contenders, with Boston College, Notre Dame and St. John's receiving lesser attention. UConn won the East Division last season by going 13-3 in the conference and 277 over all. Boston College's Bell underwent an operation similar to Knight's before last season and led all league players with a 21.6 scoring average in all games. (Hatten led in conference games at 22.3.) When asked what Knight has ahead of him in his recovery, Bell said: "If I could give him any advice, I'd say: 'Take it easy. Don't strain yourself early. Rest.' I wish him the best of luck. It's probably the most minor knee surgery you can have, but it's really tough, psychologically." Ripken No. 1? You've got to be kidding. Page 21. GIANTS 4, ANGELS 3 Giants closer Rob Nen and catcher Benito Santiago celebrated San Francisco's comeback win over the Anaheim Angels at Pac Bell Park on Wednesday. Game Five is tonight. Mp pnoto t Bell's hit lifts ties series By BEN WALKER AP Baseball Writer ' - SAN FRANCISCO —After Francisco Rodriguez bre.ezed through Barry Bonds and the middle of the San Francisco lineup, a buzz swept through Pac Bell Park. Forget about a run. Would the Giants ever get a hit against the Kid? Quickly, it all changed— the rookie's aura of perfection, and the momentum in this World Series. David Bell lined a go-ahead single off Rodriguez in the eighth inning and the Giants came back to beat the Anaheim Angels 4-3 Wednesday night, leaving the Series tied at two games each. "I was just trying to get a pitch I could handle and hit it hard," Bell said. "He's had alot of success so far. He's done a great job for these guys. "So to get a win tonight was big. I think to get a run off him is important, too." Jason Schmidt will start for the Giants in Game 5 tonight against Jarrod Washburn. It'll be a rematch of the opener in which Schmidt out- pitched the Anaheim ace : Down 3-0 early and in danger of More World Series news page 21 being blown out again, the Giants somehow slowed down Anaheim's persistent hitters. And then, the game began to turn on the littlest of things — a chopper in front of die plate and a bunt that simply would not roll foul. Suddenly, it was 3-aIl and time for more late-inning drama. i Cue Rodriguez. At 20, he'd pitched only 5 2^3 innings and didn't have a win in his major league career before October. Since then, he'd gone a record- tying 5-0 in the postseason, getting his latest win when he embarrassed the Giants with three perfect innings in Game 2. Rodriguez began diis stint by setting down Jeff Kent, Bonds and Benito Santiago in the seventh without a problem. "You're just trying to get to a young pitcher, maybe knock him off his pedestal," Kent said. "He's had a clean playoff slate, and we were hoping to dirty it a little bit. Of course, I started off on the wrong foot by striking out against him. I'll figure him out one of these days." But J.T. Snow broke though with a leadoff single in the' eighth and moved up on Bengie Molina's passed bali. Snow had to stay put, though, when first baseman Scott Spiezio made a sensational, diving catch on Reggie Sanders' foul bunt. That brought up BelJ, who earlier had made an error at third base and been thrown out trying to stretch a single... .....: ,,.„,, ..-. ..:,, . He fully redeemed himself by singling sharply past diving shortstop David Eckstein, and Snow scored ahead of center fielder Darin Erstad's throw. Officially, it was an unearned run because of the passed bail-No matter, it counted all the same as Giants posted their first Series win at home since 1962, setting off fog horn blasts from the nearby bay. As the Giants and their sellout crowd celebrated, Rodriguez sat in the dugout and watched after his first big league loss. "You're not going to win every time," Rodriguez said. "I fell great, I made a couple of mistakes. They look advantage. Today, my stuff was good. "You're going to have your bad days, your lucky days. I'll forget it, it's in the past, come back strong tomorrow." Angels manager Mike Scioscia knew Rodriguez wouldn't be Mr. Unhittable forever. "You might be a little spoiled by Francisco," Scioscia said. "He's gotten virtually everybody out. But we know that's not the life of a pitcher. "I- don'tthinkyou can look at what Francisco didn't do. Those guys are good hitters." Tim Worrell got the win and Robb Nen closed for a save. Pitching on his 24th birthday, Angels rookie John Lackey picked up a nice present, the souvenir ball from his first major league hit. More importantly for Anaheim, he avoided trouble on the mound, thanks mostly to Santiago. Twice, Lackey intentionally walked Bonds to load the bases with one out. Both times, he got Santiago to hit grounders to Eckstein that the shortstop turned into inning-ending double plays. San Francisco finally figures out K-Rod ByJOHNNADEL 'AP Sports Writer SAN FRANCISCO — Now K-Rod knows how it feels to lose. Bengie Molina says he's the reason why. Francisco Rodriguez, without a regular-season victory but a winner five times in the postseason, allowed an unearned run in the eighth inning Wednesday night as die San Francisco Giants beat the Anaheim Angels 4-3 to tie the World Series 2-2. Rodriguez, who had never appeared in the majors before Sept. 18, had pitched in eight of the Angels' previous 12 postseason games and they won them 1 all. The 20-year-old Venezuelan sensation earned a catchy nickname as well as the five wins, tying the postseason record set by Arizona's Randy Johnson last year. . ^ Now, Rodriguez is 5-1 in October. Molina, whose passed ball led to the deciding run, was quick to take the blame. "He was^great. I didn't make a play and they scored," Molina said. "It was my passed ball. If I catch the ball, maybe they don't score. "I had a horrible game. I can't wait for the game to start tomorrow." Rodriguez became the youngest pitcher to win a World Series game Saturday, throwing three perfect innings in a wild 11-10 victory while using only 26 pitches — all but four of them strikes. It was a much different story this time — he threw 30 pitches ^— 18 for strikes — in two innings. "Hey, nobody's invincible," Angels pitching coach Bud Black said. "You've got to give them credit. He was fine — he gave up two hits, two innings. The other guys are pretty good, too. Snow had a nice at-bat, Bell, too. They're good hitters." Rodriguez fanned Jeff Kent to begin the seventh and retired Barry Bonds on a grounder to first and Benito Santiago on a fly to left. Rodriguez was called up by the Angels on Sept. 15 and made his big league debut three days later. He struck out eight straight batters from Sept. 18-25 to match a franchise record. He pitched 5 2-3 innings in the regular season, allowing two hits and no runs while walking two and striking out 13. He did not get a decision. Rodriguez has pitched 15 innings in the postseason, allowing six hits and three runs, two earned, while walking four and striking out 21. "I'll forget it, it's in the past, come back strong tomorrow," he said. Hartings, Bettis out for Sunday Zereoue, Okobi to get starts By ALAN ROBINSON AP Sports Writer PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Steel- ers running back Jerome Bettis and center Jeff Hartings will miss Sunday's important division game at Baltimore with left knee injuries. Both players were injured Monday night in the second half of the Steel- ers' 28-10 victory over the Colts. Bettis sprained a medial collateral ligament on his first and only carry of the second half, and Hartings injured cartilage while run-blocking later in the half. Coach Bill Cowher said the short turnaround from the Monday night game all but prevented the two players fro m gc tting ready by Sunday. "They clearly could not play this week," Cowher said Wednesday. "Both players are out, and we'll take it week-to-week." Bettis will be replaced by Amos Zereoue, who ran for 87 yards Monday — all in the second half. Zereoue gained 73 yards in place of the injured Bettis when the Steelers won 26-21 in Baltimore last season. "That was the game Amos really came into his own," safety Lee Flowers said. "So, can we beat it (the injuries)? We're going to have to. It's a game we need, so we're going to have to beat Baltimore with what we have in this locker room." The winner Sunday in Baltimore takes over first place in the AFC North. The Steelers (3-3) have won three of four since their 0-2 start. Hartings' replacement has considerably less experience than Bettis' backup. Hartings will be replaced by second-year lineman Chukky Okobi, who played only four plays all season Jerome Bettis injured his knee against Indianapolis on Monday. He will not need surgery. (AP photo) until Monday. Okobi was Chargers quarterback Drew Brees' center during their college days at Purdue, but played in only one game last season. "I think the quality of any (cam is going to be measured in depth," Cowher said. "Everybody goes through it. You arc going to lose players periodically. We haven't been healthy since (he start of the season. We finally got (linebacker) Kendrcll Bell back, and now we lose these two guys. I'm confident we have quality backups." Okobi insists he isn't nervous, even though his first NFL start will come against a defense led by Pro Bowl linebacker Ray Lewis, the player many Steelers consider the best in the league. Continued on page 16 Steelers staying cautious By ALAN ROBINSON AP Sports Writer PITTSBURGH — Talking got the Pittsburgh Steelers into this mess to begin with. Maybe that's why they're not looking to get into another round of verbal exchanges with the Baltimore Ravens. If the Steelers (3-3) beat the Ravens (3-3) on Sunday, they'll be alone in first place in the AFC North — or, just where they expected to be all along. After needing a month to play themselves out of the trouble they created for themselves by losing badly to New England and Oakland to open the season, the Steeiers aren't conceding they're back to being the team they were supposed to be. "The whole thing made us humble," safety Lee Plowers said Wednesday. "All those expectations, all the clippings, all the hoopla in the off- season, all the predictions, they tend to make you are better than you are. It really humbled us and made us realize the game is played on the field. "It does nothing for you to read your clippings, and we understand that now." Coach Bill Cowher read them, too, and he's made it clear he didn't want to read them again. He especially wants them to watch what they say this week. All three Steelers-Ravens games a year ago — including Pittsburgh's playoff victory — were marked by considerable verbal jousting and posturing by both teams. Then, Flowers said both teams felt "genuine hatred" for one another, and former Ravens tight end Shannon Sharpe ridiculed Steelers receiver Plaxico Burress by calling him "Plexiglas." And those were just the highlights. This time, Cowher doesn't want his team talking about the Ravens — or, most of all, about the Steelers. He's never said it, but it's apparent he agreed with Flowers' comments a month ago that the Steelers were too caught up in their own expectations when the season started. "We cannot afford to fall back into thinking we're a dominant team," Cowher said. "We're a good football team, but we're riot a dominant team. We have to have everybody playing and just worrying about who they're playing that particular week. When you do all that, all the oilier things will take care of themselves." For at least one day, his players got their coach's message. Unlike a year ago, when the Steel- ers look plenty of shots at the then- defending Super Bowl champion Ravens, and got plenty back themselves, all the talk Wednesday was respectful. Havens linebacker Ray Lewis was endorsed by a number of Steelers not only as the NFL's best defensive player but its best player, period. Several Steelers said they respect how well Baltimore has played, especially after they were forced by salary cap restrictions to sever ties with a number of their Super Bowl players. "I don't think anybody expected Baltimore to be in the thick of things, but they're doing a great job," Flowers said. Wide receiver Hines Ward said, "They've been doing a tremendous job on the defensive side of the ball. They're young, but they're very disciplined and they play together well." Cal's Price suspended for hit on Eyerman From Staff Reports CALIFORNIA — It appears Lloyd Price will now pay the price for his actions. Price, the California linebacker who knocked Indiana University of Pennsylvania quarterback Brian Eyerman out of last Saturday's game with a helmel-to-helmet hit, has been suspended by Vulcans head coach John Luckhardt for this week's game against Mansfield. The hit came in the second quarter of lUP's 20-9 win at Miller Stadium. Eyerman, who leads all of NCAA Division II in touchdown passes, managed to finish the half, but suffered from blurry vision and was pulled in favor of backup Kevin Wcidl. Luckhardi called IUP head coach Frank Cignetti on Wednesday, apologized for the incident and informed him that Scott was suspended. Price, a redshirt freshman from Ringgold High School, is ninth on the team with 15 tackles.
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