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The Inside Track | Newswire

Australians Make Things Rough on U.S. Basketball

September 10, 2000|From Staff and Wire Reports

It wasn't a close call, but the U.S. men's basketball team met an opponent that didn't back down and didn't go down easily.

In a heated game complete with nasty exchanges, a near-fight and plenty of emotion at Melbourne, the U.S. Olympic team defeated the Australian team, 89-64, Saturday night in its final tuneup for the Sydney Games.

The tone was set only seconds into the game when Australia's Andrew Gaze took down U.S. star Vince Carter. A heated exchange followed--no punches were thrown--and the Australians kept refusing to back down for much of the rest of the night.

Gaze corralled Carter around the neck as Carter tried to break downcourt. Carter ended up standing over Gaze and staring down at him, and Australia's Shane Heal immediately came over and started yelling in Carter's face. About a minute later, Carter collided with referee Bill Milderhall, dislocating the official's elbow.

"Things like that happen when there is a very intense atmosphere," U.S. center Alonzo Mourning said, "and Andrew Gaze is a very respected player here and he wanted to put on a show for his hometown."

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After falling behind by 10 points early, the U.S. Olympic women's basketball team increased its defensive intensity and rediscovered its shooting touch to defeat Australia, 83-62, at Melbourne in its final tuneup for Sydney.

Lisa Leslie scored 19 points, Sheryl Swoopes had 15 and Teresa Edwards made all five of her shots, three of them three-pointers, and added 13 for the Americans, who will be the gold-medal favorites.

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Mark Richardson of Britain, who tested positive for the steroid nandralone in October 1999, quit the Olympic team while track's ruling body agreed to postpone his arbitration hearing until after the Sydney Games. . . . Former Cuban diving star Arturo Miranda asked the International Olympic Committee to reverse its decision to bar him from competing for Canada at the Sydney Games. Miranda's coach, Mitch Geller, said he would take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport if the IOC refused. . . . FIFA officials inspected the Olympic soccer venue in Canberra, where competition will begin Wednesday after workers spent the last three days restoring the playing surface at Bruce Stadium.

Boxing

Undisputed light-heavyweight champion Roy Jones Jr. retained his title when challenger Eric Harding was unable to come out for the 11th round at New Orleans.

Jones (43-1, 35 knockouts) was given a technical knockout when Harding remained in his corner with a torn biceps in his left arm. Harding suffered the injury in the second round.

Harding (19-1-1), the International Boxing Federation's top-ranked contender, was a heavy underdog but was frequently the aggressor against Jones, who seemed tentative early on and lethargic throughout.

Hockey

The Mighty Ducks opened training camp without unsigned free agent defenseman Oleg Tverdovsky, disappointing Pierre Gauthier, team president and general manager.

Gauthier was optimistic last week that Tverdovsky would be signed by the start of camp. But he sounded angry after the team's first workout at its Anaheim training facility.

"I don't want to talk about the Oleg situation," Gauthier said. "Nothing. And I won't say anything even when he comes back. You can figure out why."

With no regrets and no apology to his fans, Alexei Yashin returned to the Ottawa Senators.

Senator General Manager Marshall Johnston announced the return of his superstar at a news conference at the Corel Centre, ending a holdout that began last summer when Yashin demanded that his contract be renegotiated.

Yashin held out for the entire 1999-2000 season and then tried to get an arbitrator to declare him a free agent. The arbitrator rejected that and told Yashin he still owed the Senators a year under his current contract. Yashin's attempt to appeal that decision in court failed last week.

Defenseman Chris Therien signed a four-year contract with the Philadelphia Flyers, as the Flyers have all of their players under contract for the season. . . . Colorado Avalanche center Peter Forsberg might sit out the exhibition opener Thursday against the Dallas Stars because of a sprained ankle suffered five weeks ago while playing soccer in Sweden. . . . The Phoenix Coyotes signed goalie Sean Burke to a one-year contract.

Miscellany

Indiana basketball players rallied to Bob Knight's defense once again, describing as "ridiculous" the accusation that their coach grabbed and berated a student who greeted him informally.

"It just baffles me that anyone would even consider letting Coach Knight go over something like this," guard Dane Fife said.

Fife was among the Hoosier players who defended Knight earlier this year when the coach was accused of choking a former player during a 1997 practice.

Kentucky basketball Coach Tubby Smith said junior forward Jules Camara decided to stay at the school. Camara, arrested last weekend on a drunken driving charge, pleaded not guilty Friday.

The inaugural Los Angeles Triathlon, featuring 85 professional and 2,100 amateur athletes, starts today at 6:30 a.m., beginning with a .9-mile swim in Venice Beach. The 24.8-mile cycle course will run through Hollywood and transition into a 6.2-mile run ending in downtown Los Angeles.

The $100,000 prize purse in the professional category is the largest offered for an Olympic triathlon distance course in the United States. Winners of the male and female categories will each receive $20,000.

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