Detroit Free Press from Detroit, Michigan on January 11, 2002 · 66
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Detroit Free Press from Detroit, Michigan · 66

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Detroit, Michigan
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Friday, January 11, 2002
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66
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oniiiinweff eager to start rebuilding Decisions abound for Lions' coach By CURT SYIVISII R Mil E I'KI ss M'ORIS WRI 1 1 K It must be his nature, because there was nothing in his first season to lift his spirits, but Lions coach Marty Mornhinweg is ready to get started on a new season. Already. "We're in a great, great position with this football team," Mornhinweg said Thursday, four clays after his team finished 2-14 and more than six months before training camp. And it's not just the No. 3 pick in the draft he's talking about. "We're going through our evaluations right now," Mornhinweg .said. "Shoot, we made no excuses about it during the season, but if we can get some of our best players healthy and on the field, that will make a dramatic difference." Mornhinweg not only must evaluate players, he must hire some assistant coaches. He already has candidates to replace Vince Tobin as defensive coordinator, and he said he might hire an offensive coordinator. Mornhinweg was offensive coordinator this season. Tobin was fired Monday. The Lions also are moving to a new practice Please see LIONS, Page 8D WILLIAM Mhchii:. uelroit hree Press Attorney Bob Mann played end for the Lions. In '4!), he led the NFL with 1,014 receiving yards. Mann pioneer player in -NFL He, Groomes first blacks on Lions By BILL DOW I Kl I I'KI SS 'IU-U Kill R Five blocks from the rising steel skeleton that will become Ford Field, attorney Bob Mann pauses during preparations for a murder trial to reflect on his first career a half-century ago. In those days, his rival was a hard-hitting defensive back poised for a clothesline tackle instead of an eager young prosecutor trying to lock up a client for life. At 77, Mann is fit and trim, and he looks 20 years younger, even with his gray mustache and graying temples. His dignified and friendly manner belies the strength and determination that allowed him to become a pioneer in the NFL. Mann and Mel Groomes were the Lions' first black players, joining the team in 1948. Two years earlier, the Los Angeles Rams had become the first NFL team since World War II to integrate, signing Kenny Washington and Woody Strode. Although the owners denied the existence of a color ban, not one black player appeared in the NFL in 1!):!:;-15, though a handful played earlier. Mann remains modest about his role as a ' MANN, Page SD MICHAEL ROSENBERG Ail ugly look at hiring decisions in football i' Time, once again, for Trivia Questions Everybody Can An- ,, : swer. Ready? I lore goes . . . Mike Riley was just fired as head coach of the San Diego Chargers, with whom he lost 2( of his final 32 games. Before that, he spent two years as coach at Oregon State, where his record was 8-14. In his five years as a head coach in college and the NFL, Riley is 22-18, with no winning seasons. Despite a record that would make the Lions blush at least a little Riley wa recently a finalist for coaching jobs at Indiana and Stanford, and he is expected to land as a head (.each somewhere within a year or two. Now, here is the trivia question. Riley's skin A) Black. I!) White. If you guessed I!, congratulations! Your brain is functioning! This is not a knock on Riley, widely considered a candidate for nicest man alive. He's a better coach than his record indicates, and he did w in two Canadian FooM;ill League championships. But if he were black, Mike Riley would not get ' ROSENBERG Pae 5D r - .... ' U f , : , .. . . ; .- ; - fw,- ,' 4 ' r-..-'" "' ', . r,. , .a ii- - , . MICHIGAN'S BEST I CUST YOUI1 VOTE Take a look at the Free Press' 26 nominees and vote for who you think was Michigan's best sports figure in 2001. pace 7d. VL1 11 VU triday Jan. 11, 2002 Baseball 2 NBANHL 4 Preps 5 Scoreboard 6 ON THE WEB www.freep.com phone 313-222-0(i(i0 Section D Crying time: Buck ettwill depai Spartans star tailback will enter NFL draft By JEM ELE HILL FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER T.J.Duckett EAST LANSING - When tailback T. J. Duckett met with Michigan State coach Bobby Williams last week, he told him he was thinking about turning pro. "I almost felt like I wanted to start crying," Williams said Thursday. "I know and feel deeply in my heart that he will do very well at the next level." Duckett, MSU's fifth-leading rusher of all time, made it official Thursday by declaring for the NFL draft, 10 days after he finished his junior season. Today is the deadline for underclassmen to enter the draft. "It was definitely a hard choice for me," Duckett said, "but it's also a great opportunity out there for me.' I thought this was the right time for me to take advantage of it. My dream was to play pro football. I have the opportunity, so now I'm going to take it." Duckett made the announce ment at the Clara Bell Smith Student-Athlete Academic Center with Williams seated next to him. Several teammates also were there, as were nearly 20 television cameras. Duckett cited an intense desire to play pro football, but evaded questions about when he knew he Please see DUCKETT, Page 5D 1(0) U.S. FIGURE SKATING CHAMPIONSHIPS M If IT II .... 7(7 .,,,-.M1-'"'-'., .V r i Kwan leads as flawless foursome vie for title By JO-ANN BARNAS ERIE PRESS SPORIS U R 1 1 I R MAHK J. TERILLAssociated Press Five-lime U.S. champion Michelle Kwan performs her short program Thursday at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. She stands in first place heading into Saturday night's long program. LOS ANGELES - With each performance, the tension grew, but the skating remained superb. Michelle Kwan was the first of the bunch to go. She was almost perfect. Then came Sarah Hughes, followed by Angela Nikodinov and then, a little later, Sasha Cohen. Not a wobble among them. ' When the last bow was taken in the ladies short program Thursday at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Kwan, the five-time champion, found herself on top in an afternoon filled with solid performances. "It's nice to let it all come out and in L.A.," said Kwan, referring to her home training base in nearby Lake Arrowhead. "Just to do a good performance is very satisfying." Cohen, the 2000 U.S. silver medalist who missed last year's nationals with a back injury, placed second in the short program, surging ahead of Hughes and Nikodinov with a fast-paced program to "Sentimental Waltz." The timing of her inspired performance was impeccable. The U.S. Olynvpic team will be determined this week, with the top three finishers earning berths to the Salt Lake (James. The long program, worth two-thirds of the final score, is Saturday night. Hughes, reigning U.S. silver medalist, was graceful in her "Ava Maria" performance that brought her coach, Robin Wagner, to tears. But it didn't move Phase see WOMEN, Page 3D TIGERS GET SPRING FEVER The Tigers will open the season April 2 at Tampa Bay, with the home opener April 5 against Cleveland. But the Tigers included a disclaimer in their schedule, released Thursday: subject to change. That's because baseball hasn't announced whether it will fold any teams this year. The Minnesota Twins could go out of business, and the Tigers are scheduled to play them 19 times. Other schedule highlights: The American League champion New York Yankees will play one series in Detroit Sept. 20-22 - the final home series of the year. And the Tigers' interleague oppo- rents will be Philadelphia, Montreal and Pittsburgh at home, and Arizona, Atlanta and Florida on the road. Full schedule, Page 2D. Titan tasks accomplished against No. 24 Butler Detroit extends home streaky ends 5-game skid " f By MARK I RANCESCUTTI FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER KiHIHMON F- fjOZifcR-Lielroit Free press Detroit Calihan 's Willie Green splits Butler's defense at Hall on 1 hursday night. Green scored 10. Life without Rashad Phillips might not be as nice, but home remains sweet for Detroit Mercy. The Titans extended their home win streak to 3G games and snapped their losing streak at five Thursday night with a 63-54 victory over No. 24 Cutler. Detroit, off to its worst start in the conference and overall since the 1996-97 season, returned home after five straight losses away from Calihan Hall. The Titans faced the possible ending of its second-largest home streak ip the nation and an 0-3 start in the Horizon League. Senior guard Greg Grays scored 17 points, including seven IIOMi: COOKIN' Detroit Mercy has the second-longest home winning streak in major college basketball. The top four current streaks: Michigan State 53 1 Detroit Mercy 36 Utah State 31 Brigham Young 28 Played late Thursday points during a thee-minute fourth quarter stretch that allowed the Titans (7-8, 1-2 Horizon) to pull avvav from the Bulldogs (14-2, 1-2). Junior forward Terrell Riggs scored 14 points,' 10 in the first half, and grabbed 10 rebounds. Detroit's leading scorer, senior Willie Green, added 10 points, all in the second half. Without Phillips, Detroit's 5- Phfise see UDM, Pii);e 5D

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