C4 FRIDAY. APRIL 20. 2001 THE SALINA JOURNAL T WNBA DRAFT AP file photo Claflin native Jackie Stiles, who led Southwest lUlissouri State to the Final Four, is eager to play professionally. Aussie could go first Jackson projected to be top pick; Stiles expected to go early By MELISSA MURPHY The Associated Press NEW YORK— A teen-ager from Down Under may overshadow the highly touted 2001 senior class at the WNBA draft today. Lauren Jackson, the leading scorer and rebounder for Australia at the Sydney Olympics, is considered the top pick by several WNBA coaches. The No. 1 pick belongs to the Seattle Storm, which finished with the worst record last season. The 19-year-old Olympic silver medalist will likely upstage scoring sensation Jackie Stiles of Southwest Missouri State and injured All-Americans Tamika Catchings of Tennessee and Svetlana Ambrosi- mova of Connecticut. Australian Tom Maher is Jackson's biggest fan. "She's a wonderful 3-point shooter and the most agile player you can imagine," Maher said. "At 19, she's the best shot- blocker in the world." Maher should know. The 6- foot-5 Jackson starred on his Australian Olympic team. She also averaged 21.6 points, 14.2 rebounds and 4.3 blocks to lead the Canberra Capitals to the Australia Women's National Basketball League title. Storm coach Lin Dunn traveled to Sydney to watch Jackson at the Olympics. "She's one of the best players I've seen regardless of her age," Dunn said. "I'm high on her. All the coaches in the WNBA are high on her" Even Cynthia Cooper, the new coach of the Phoenix Mercury is impressed by Jackson. "She's a great talent," said Cooper, who led Houston to four consecutive WNBA titles. "It's very rare for a center to shoot the 3, defend well, run the floor on the fast break and show her type of leadership. I think Lauren will be the No. 1 pick." Jackson qualifies for the WN BA draft because she has two years of professional experience. American players must be at least 22 or have completed their college eligibility. Stiles, Ruth Riley and Niele Ivey of national champion Notre Dame and Katie Douglas of runner-up Purdue are ex• pected to go early in the four- round, 64-player draft. Stiles, who led the Lady Bears to the Final Four, is the women's NCAA scoring leader with 3,393 points. "Playing professional sports is something you dream about as a kid," said Stiles, who averaged 30.3 points. "I have no idea what will happen, so I'm very anxious to see where I will be picked." The 16-team draft order is the reverse order of last year's regular-season records. The Charlotte Sting get the second pick, followed by the Indiana Fever, Portland Fire and Miami Sol. Riley, the only unanimous selection on this season's All- America team, is expected to go in the top five. Midseason injuries to Catchings (knee) and Ambrosimova (foot) will influence their standing in the draft. "I still think they'll go very high, they're impact players," Dunn said. "But let's be honest, they're hurt and won't play until midseason." JORDAN • MICHAEL JORDAN Door ajar for return Jordan: 'I can't tell where I'm going to be' in three months By JOSEPH WHITE The Associated Press WASHINGTON — Michael Jordan continued to quote the same long odds that he won't return to the NBA, but he quickly added that "three months from now, I can't tell where I'm going to be." Jordan's comments came at a news conference Thursday where he introduced Doug Collins as the coach of the Washington Wizards. Jordan said he had told Collins that he should not make his decision on whether to coach the Wizards "depending upon whether Michael Jordan plays basketbaU again." "There's been a lot of conversation about Michael Jordan playing basketball again," Jordan said, answering a reporter's question. "I've said, and I still hold true to my words, that there's a 99.9 percent chance that I won't," Jordan said. But, he added: "Three months from now, I can't tell where I'm going to be. Hopefully I'll still be breathing. But if you ask me my opinion, as of right now, I'm not playing basketball next season, and Doug understands that." Collins said it was his understanding that he was coming to Washington to coach the Wizards and that his relationship with Jordan would be as coach to team president. "The most important thing for me was that Michael was going to be president here and we were going to be together," Collins said. "Whatever comes after that would be gravy "So, when Michael makes his decision, he's going to know in his heart if he can do the things he wants to do, and that's all I needed to know from Michael." Speculation has grown in recent weeks about the possibility of a comeback next season by Jordan, the 12-time All-Star, six-time champion, 10-time scoring leader and five-time MVP He retired in 1998 after a storybook ending to his last game, when he hit his final shot to give the Chicago Bulls a title-clinching victory over the Utah Jazz in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. Eastern Conference First round Conference Conference (best-of-5) semiffnals finals (best-of-7) (best-of-7) I Philadelphia -i " Indiana Western Conference First round (best-of-5) Conference Conference finals semifinals (best-of-7) (best-of-7) Av San Antonio '4 New Yorl< [S,, Toronto 2 i Milwaukee y« Orlando (a^ Miami pXharlotte NBA finals (best-of -7) 48 Minnesota 4 Utah 5 Dallas 2 L.A. Lakers 7 Portland 3 Sacramento 6 Phoenix SOURCE: Compiled from AP wire reports AP Who will be playoff survivor? By DAVID NIELSEN Scripps Howard News Service Boot Camp? Click. Temptation Island? Whatever. Chains of Love? Gag me. The best reality television series resumes this Saturday — the NBA playoffs. Here's a look at the 16 teams vying to become the ultimate svu-vivor — as NBA champion. Final answers Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers. What an intriguing matchup this would be: 7-foot-1, 330-pound Shaquiile O'Neal vs. 6-0, 165-pound (mayiDS) Allen Iverson. • Defending NBA champion LOS ANGELES rocl<ets into the playoffs riding an eight-game winning streak. Reasons to shine: Shaq Is hitting his free throws (yes, he was 13-for-13 Tuesday); Kobe Bryant is healthy, and Phil Jackson hasn't lost a playoff series since 1995. Reasons to flop: Seemingly anything might set off another untimely O'Neal- Bryant flap. • PHILADELPHIA sported the league's best road record (27-14) and the Easfs best conference mark (4014). Reasons to shine: The league 's leading scorer, Iverson; the league's leading rebounder, Dikembe Mutombo. Reasons to flop: Iverson's one-man scoring show could be shut down — or slammed down — during the rough- and-tumble postseason. Survivors San Antonio Spurs, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, Sacramento Kings. If the Lakers or 76ers get booted, each of these teams Is ruthless enough to survive as league champion. • SAN ANTONIO had the league's best regular-season record (58-24). Reasons to shine: Terrific all-around play from Tim Duncan, interior defense from David Robinson, and a little dazzle from Derek Anderson. Enough said. Reasons to flop: Creaky lineup (Avg. starter's age, 31.4) could break down. • MILWAUKEE'S 52-30 record is Its best since 1985-86. Reasons to shine: Formidable alliance of Glenn Robinson (22.0 pts.), Ray Allen (22.0 pts.) and Sam Cassell (18.2 pts.) Reasons to flop: Lack of postseason experience. Bucks haven't won playoff series since 1988-89. • MIAMI makes the playoffs for the sixth straight year under Pat Riley Reasons to shine: Alonzo Mourning's unexpected return after missing the first 59 games of the season with a kidney ailment. Reasons to flop: Mourning's unexpected return rocked the Heat's fragile player rotation. • SACRAMENTO (55-27) matched its best record ever, from 1963-64 when it was the Cincinnati Royals. Reasons to shine: Explosive offense led the league in scoring for third straight year. Reasons to flop; Tne Kings haven't won a playoff series in 20 years, when they were based in Kansas City. Tempting moles Dallas Mavericks, Utah Jazz, Minnesota Timberwolves, Phoenix Suns, New York Knicks, Toronto Raptors, Portland Trail Blazers. These tricky teams could sneak past some of their rivals. But eventually the more powerful members of the tribe will snuff their title chances. • DALLAS (53-29) had their best record since 1986-87, Reasons to shine: Thanks to shrewd trades, the Mavs have talented starters — and backups — at all five positions, despite having no players that they drafted in the first round. Reasons to flop: Pressure. The Mavs hadn't had a winning record since 1989-90 and haven't won a playoff game since 1988. That was six coaches ago. • UTAH (53-29) has won at least 50 games in every full NBA season since 1992-93. Reasons to shine: John Stockton (39 years old) and Karl Malone (37) continue to baffle their skeptics — and younger, quicker players. Reasons to flop: The Jazz were only 3-9 against the Lakers, Spurs and Kings. • MINNESOTA, the No. 8 seed at 47-35 in the Western Conference, would be the No. 5 seed In the East. Reasons to shine: Kevin Garnett — he's in the top 20 In eight statistical categories. Reasons to flop: The Timberwolves freeze on the road (17-24). • PHOENIX has made the playoffs every year since 1987-88. Reasons to shine: The Suns have four players (Jason Kidd, Cliff Robinson, Shawn Marion and Tony Delk) who have scored at least 38 points in a game this season. Reasons to flop: Big teams, i.e. the Lakers and Spurs, could manhandle the Suns inside. • NEW YORK hasn't lost in the first round of the playoffs since 1991. Reasons to shine: The Knicks' defense (86.1 pts.) was the best in the league. Reasons to flop: The Knicks are the lowest scoring team (88.7 pts.) in the playoffs. • TORONTO has never won a playoff game, but their record has Improved every year since 1997-98. Reasons to shine: Vince Carter. In the 73 games that he has played more than four minutes, he's led the Raptors in scoring 66 times. Reasons to flop: Lack of offense — besides Carter, only Antonio Davis is averaging in double digits. • PORTLAND lost seven of its last 10, but still finished a robust 50-32. Reasons to shine: Still the deepest team in the league, as long as they don't get suspended or brawl with each other. Reasons to flop: Since Rod Strickland joined the team, the combustible Blazers went 8-13. Weakest link Charlotte Hornets, Orlando Magic, Indiana Pacers These teams should be thrilled to even be included on the show. Each has enough breathtaking talent to keep viewers entertained for a few hours, but they should be prepared to be dismissed early The tribe has spoken. Three teams make coaching moves By The Associated Press Losing caught up with two more NBA coaches Thursday, with Detroit firing George Irvine and Cleveland dismissing Randy Wittman. In Washington, Doug CoUins returned to the coaching ranks, one day after Leonard Hamilton abruptly resigned from the Wizards. The Pistons fired Irvine after finishing 18 games under .500 in his first full season. "This was a very difficult decision for me to make," team president Joe Dumars said in a statement. "I want to thank George and his staff for their hard work and dedication, however at this time, I have decided to make a change." "I'm a little surprised, and I'm certainly disappointed," Irvine said. "But it's their choice. I disagree with the decision, but that doesn't change my respect for them." Irvine, who replaced Alvin Gentry last March, finished the season at 14-10 and won the endorsement of several players. But with Grant HiU leaving as a free agent, the team struggled to a 32-50 record. Irvine had two years remaining on his contract. Cleveland fired Wittman after his teams lost 102 games in two seasons. The Cavaliers were 30-52 this season, finishing two games behind the Pistons in the Central Division. "As much as I am concerned about the number of games we lost, I was more concerned about how we lost them," Cavs general manager Jim Paxson said. Paxson said the firing was necessary to "get us back in the right direction." "Fair or not fair, coaches are expected to win games," he said. Collins, who coached Michael Jordan for three years with the Chicago Bulls, answered Jordan's request to take over the Wizards after Hamilton's sudden departure following a 19-63 season, the third-worst record in the league. "Michael Jordan called me on the phone and said, 'I need you. Can you come here and help me?'" Collins said. "It was easy once he said that." T NATIONAL LEAGUE Neagle, relievers shut out Padres Colorado completes three-game sweep for fifth straight win By The Associated Press SAN DIEGO — So much for the theory that the Colorado Rockies play rotten on the road. Look what they just did the San Diego Padres. Denny Neagle and three relievers combined on a six-hitter and the Rockies shut out the Padres for the second straight game, winning 4-0 Thursday It was the first time in their nine-year history that the Rock ies had consecutive shutouts. And it just so happened that the starters were both big off season free agent acquisitions, Neagle and fellow lefty Mike Hampton. Hampton held the Padres to four hits in eight innings in an 8-0 win Wednesday night. The Padres failed to advance a runner past second both Wednesday and Thursday The Rockies' pitching staff lowered its ERA by more than a run this series, from 6.21 to 5.02. The only earned run in 27 innings came in Tuesday night's 9-5 win. The Rockies have the best road ERA in the NL at 1.89. Todd HoUandsworth and light-hitting catcher Ben Petrick homered, giving the Rock ies six in three games. "Right now I'm not going to get too carried away with it because it's so early," Neagle said. "But, we're playing the type of baseball we need to play" he said. "If we keep playing like this, we're going to be tough to beat." Neagle (2-0) allowed three hits in six innings, struck out five and walked three for his 100th NL win. He has 107 overall. Neagle also doubled and scored a run as the Rockies won their fifth straight. The Padres have lost four in a row. Marlins 5, Expos 2 MIAMI — Charles Johnson hit a pair of home rims and Florida's bullpen held the lead in a close game for just the third time this season as the Marlins beat Montreal. Johnson hit solo homers in the second and the sixth before the Marlins pulled ahead for good with a three-run eighth inning. Antonio Alfonseca pitched a scoreless ninth for his third save. Braden Looper (1-1) struck out three in two perfect innings. Mike * Lowell led 'off the eighth with a single and later scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch by Scott Strickland (0-1). T AMERICAN LEAGUE Martinez handles Devil Rays Red Sox sweep Tampa Bay again as ace strikes out 13 By The Associated Press ST PETERSBURG, Fla. — Pedro Martinez struck out 13 in just six innings and the Boston Red Sox swept Tampa Bay for the second time this month with an 8-3 victory Thursday night. Brian Daubach homered for the third straight game as Boston dropped the Devil Rays to 0-2 under new manager Hal McRae. Martinez (2-0) left after giving up a leadoff double to John Flaherty and RBI single to Felix Martinez with no outs in the seventh. He allowed nine hits. Martinez had pitched at least seven innings in each of his three previous starts this season, including an eight-inning, 16-strikeout performance to beat the Devil Rays at Fenway Park on April 8. Derek Lowe pitched the last three innings for his second save. Daubach hit his seventh homer of the season in the eighth off Doug Creek. Shea Hillebrand had a two-run double off Paul Wilson (2-0) to give the Red Sox a 6-2 lead in the third. Manny Ramirez drove in two runs with a first-inning single, giving him 12 RBIs in six games against the Devil Rays. Tampa Bay lost its fourth in a row. Martinez allowed two first- inning runs before settling down. He struck out at least 10 for the 71st time in his career and 44th time as a Red Sox. The nine hits Martinez allowed were the most since the Marlins. had 12 on July 18, 1999. Indians 11, Orioles 5 BALTIMORE — Marty Cordova homered twice and drove in four runs as the Cleveland Indians completed their first three-game sweep in Baltimore since 1988. It was the fifth career two- homer game for Cordova, who gave Cleveland a 3-2 lead with a solo drive in the fourth inning and then added a three- run shot in the fifth. Einar Diaz also homered and C.C. Sabathia (2-0) allowed two rims in six innings for the Indians, who have their first three-game winning streak of the season. Cleveland outscored the Orioles 23-7 in its first three-game sweep in Baltimore since the Orioles' season-opening 0-21 start 13 years ago. White Sox 3, Tigers 1 DETROIT — David Wells needed only 100 pitches, including an incredible 81 for strikes, in a complete game that led the Chicago White Sox over the Detroit Tigers. Wells (2-2) avenged a loss April 8 to the Tigers in which lie allowed five runs in eight innings. This time, he worked around eight hits, walked none and struck out six. Detroit threatened in the ninth, using Tony Clark's single and an error to put runners on first and second with one out, but Wells escaped. Athletics 9, Rangers 5 ARLINGTON, Texas — Johnny Damon and Jason Giambi homered as the Oakland Athletics beat Texas starter Kenny Rogers for the first time since 1994. Barry Zito (2-1), the second- year Oakland pitcher, matched a career high with 10 strikeouts in his six innings. Six of Zito's strikeouts were on called third strikes. The only runs he allowed were on a two-run homer by Alex Rodriguez — his first for the Rangers at The Ballpark in Arlington. The last time Rogers (1-1) had lost to Oakland was Aug. 7,1994. He then went 7-0 in his next 11 appearances against the A's before giving up seven runs and 11 hits in six innings Thursday.
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