September 13, 2012

By Kenneth Miller

[Editor’s note: Ken Miller is an award winning veteran journalist who spent 30 years writing for the L.A. Sentinel and has been a popular guest on local sports talk radio for several years. This is the first edition of his weekly sports column.]

I must admit that I was first to hate on the hiring of UCLA coach Jim Mora, but I should have known better.

The Bruins took a page from their nemesis USC and gave their job to a former NFL has been who could not get a job anywhere else.

Can you say Pete Carroll boys and girls?

After striking gold Carroll left the scarlet and gold high and dry amid recruiting scandals that set the program back for three years.

But, he did so after leading the Trojans back to national prominence, cashing in with the hapless Seahawks.

Mora might be next to follow such a pattern.

He made a bold move and started the first African American quarterback in UCLA history and boy has it paid off.

Brett Hundley a bulky 6’3 red shirt freshman from Arizona has already completed 42 of 61 passes for 507 yards and 6 touchdowns. Heck that’s better than Heisman hopeful Geno Smith of West Virginia who has completed 32 of 36 for 323 yards.

Mora also has a Heisman candidate on his team in senior running back Johnathan Franklin, the leading rushing in the nation with 431 yards. Franklin out of Dorsey is averaging 10.5 yards per carry and four rushing touchdowns.

And, oh by the way it’s no fluke that UCLA is 2-0 on the season and already saying bring on the Trojans.

Franklin played for my homey Paul Knox at Dorsey who does not receive nearly the credit and respect that he deserves coaching the Dorsey Dons. Two of the best high school coaches in the nation are both in the same league in Knox and my former junior high and high school mate Robert Garrett of Crenshaw.

Franklin played line backer and running back at Dorsey during a senior year in which he was All City and the Coliseum League Player of the Year.

I know it’s early, but the more Mora the better for the Bruins…

Another Heisman candidate in the Pac 12 is former Crenshaw star De Anthony Thomas who has 166 yards on 10 carries for the Oregon Ducks.

Enough of football… Did you see that beat down by Andre Ward last Saturday on HBO? For a minute I thought I was getting a fight that should have been on Pay Per View until that boy Chad Dawson came out looking like he was hungry for a meal. Then Ward just bullied and mauled him like a pit bull until the fight was stopped in the 10th round.

I don’t really know where Dawson goes from here. It was a horrible decision to go down in weight to begin with. Did he not follow Roy Jones Jr. and see what happened to him after he went up in weight and then tried to come down. Dawson will never be the same…

In the meanwhile, Ward—the onward Christian Solider — is getting better and better. Much props to Dan Goosen and Sir Raps A Lot Prince…

Finally, I think you know my transformation from Raider fan to Raider hater. I saw my boy Huey Jackson on the sideline coaching with the Bengals and that kid Raider coach bumbling with the Raiders on Monday night. The Bengals and Raiders probably would have been a more competitive game than the way ESPN had it scheduled. Two blowouts… No wonder their ratings are in the toilet.

 

Parent Category: News
Category: Sports

September 13, 2012

By RACHEL COHEN Associated Press

 

Serena Williams belted out “I Will Survive” while celebrating her U.S. Open title with some karaoke.

“I thought it was a great story for me to sing that last night,” she said Monday. “I really felt the words. I really, really felt those words.”

Survival is rallying when two points away from losing the final to top-ranked Victoria Azarenka earlier that evening. Survival, even more fittingly, is coming all the way back from the health problems that kept her from competing for 10 months in 2010-11.

Survival is getting through a U.S. Open with no tirades at officials as in her last two trips to Flushing Meadows. The site of her first major championship 13 years ago started to induce more dread than nostalgia.

“My best memory, then after that it just went downhill,” Williams said. “From line calls that were completely outrageous to more line calls that were outrageous. Calls of hindrance that were even more outrageous. It’s been a love and then hate, hate, hate, hate relationship.

“It was good to get back yesterday. I don’t feel completely comfortable still; you never know what's going to happen. But I do feel much better about the place.”

A few weeks before her 31st birthday, Williams earned her 15th Grand Slam title — and she sounds hungrier than ever to rack up more. Karaoke aside, she wasn’t talking about relaxing after a draining summer of winning Wimbledon and an Olympic gold medal.

“For whatever reason I still feel motivated, like I should go out tomorrow and go running or something,” Williams said.

A typical training day consists of 2 hours on the court, 2 hours in the gym, 3 hours of dancing and an hour of stretching.

“So many people on tour are like, ‘Oh, you just show up and you win matches.’ I just smile and I let them believe that,” Williams told reporters. “The fact of the matter is I probably work harder than anyone else on the WTA Tour or else I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you guys.”

All that means “I don’t have a life, especially lately.” And that’s OK.

After Maria Sharapova revealed during the Open that her engagement to basketball player Sasha Vujacic was off, Williams let slip that she, too, recently went through a breakup.

The relationship ended last winter, she said Monday, insisting, “I don’t remember his name.”

“If I’m in a relationship, I’m fine; I do well. But I feel like when I’m out, I’m angry and I do even better,” Williams said with a laugh. “I don’t know what’s better for me. It’s a win-win situation.”

Everything seems like a win-win lately. Williams beat Azarenka 6-2, 2-6, 7-5 even though “I felt down the whole match,” considering the first set ended so quickly and her opponent controlled much of the second and third.

Big sister Venus yelled from her box to move her feet and get her energy back.

“I think either I got too confident or too relaxed,” Serena said. “I stopped moving my feet. My energy was low. It was strange for a final for me to play so lackadaisical. It wasn’t me. Then I started making errors.”

Williams celebrated until 3 a.m. Monday, then set her alarm for 5:15. She took a cat nap in the green room at “CBS This Morning” while movie director James Cameron was talking.

Williams is now three Grand Slam titles from tying Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert at No. 4 on the all-time list. Told that Navratilova joked on Twitter “you are catching me and Chris, and I don’t like it,” Williams giddily said she’d retweet it.

Coach Patrick Mouratoglou, who has been working with Williams since her first-round loss at the French Open, has told her she should stop ignoring records.

“Since I plan on playing for a long time, definitely plausible,” Williams said of catching those greats. “I have to make sure I stay healthy and stay positive and stay calm.

“And if I never won another Grand Slam, I’ve had a fabulous career, a historic career.”

Parent Category: News
Category: Sports

September 13, 2012

By Kenneth Miller

 LAWT Columnist

 

Last week while just chill’n, I got a phone call from one of my basketball friends who told me that UCLA prize recruit Shabazz Muhammad had already begun formulating plans to play overseas.

 

The source indicated that Muhammad will be declared ineligible by the NCAA and will not be allowed to play for the Bruins or any other college program.

 

While rumors regarding Muhammad, a 6’6 man-child, have been circulating for several months, recently the NCAA indicated that it was investigating the status of Muhammad, Kyle Anderson a 6’8 point guard out of New Jersey and post player Tony Parker.

 

All three recruits were responsible for lifting the Bruins to the top recruiting class in the nation and thrusting them to the top of many college basketball preseason polls.

 

UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero acknowledged the NCAA investigation of the student/athletes, but cited privacy laws that prevented him from discussing the matter.

 

Both Anderson and Parker were allowed to participate during a recent exhibition tour to China with UCLA, but if the allegations are true that could have been their first and last experience with the UCLA program.

 

The consequences of losing Muhammad or perhaps all three of the recruits would be a devastating blow to the UCLA basketball program and its head coach Ben Howland.

 

Although, Howland has led the Bruins to three consecutive Final Four berths during his tenure, they did not win a single title. Some would say the championships were too hard to achieve because of Florida’s back-to back title run, but didn’t North Carolina State upset Georgetown?

 

Rapid defections either to the NBA or via transfer, have not helped Howland’s case because most players who left early for the NBA still don’t openly endorse the head coach.

 

A scathing Sports Illustrated article last season painting a program in peril was brushed aside by AD Guerrero and the coaching staff, but this current crisis regarding Muhammad and his fellow recruits could cripple the program.

 

My sources tell me they would not be surprised if Muhammad is not cleared to play by the NCAA.

 

I was also informed that Muhammad was seen in Orange County driving a 2012 Range Rover while purchasing roughly $5,000 worth of computer equipment. Expensive lunches in Hollywood have also been reported.

 

Another source added that it was two prominent coaches who recruited both Muhammad and Anderson that turned UCLA in to the NCAA compliance office.

 

Because of the ongoing NCAA investigation neither the NCAA nor UCLA could comment on these latest allegations.

 

The NCAA is carefully combing through all of the information it has received and therefore a ruling could come as early as November.

 

Regardless of the outcome, don’t expect for local prep standouts to be running anytime soon to Westwood, especially when UCLA went out of region to hire Kory McCray AAU coach for its staff.

 

McCray, whose father founded he powerful AAU Atlanta Celtics, is qualified to be an NCAA assistant, but was primarily lured to UCLA by Howland to tap into the region from which he came. Parker is from Georgia.

 

Qualified local coaches have been passed over by UCLA for years.

 

This article is not written to accuse Howland or UCLA of anything. That responsibility rests in the hands of the NCAA.

 

It is a search for the truth. Sources are not always reliable, but these sources have no bias against Howland or UCLA. They were providing information on a high profile recruit at UCLA.

 

Only time will tell if they are accurate, and if they are, it spells trouble for the UCLA men’s basketball program.

 

Parent Category: News
Category: Sports

September 13, 2012

Associated Press

 

Robert Griffin III is the first rookie quarterback to win an offensive player of the week award after his debut game.

The NFL announced Wednesday September 12 that Griffin is the NFC offensive player of the week for his performance in the Washington Redskins' 40-32 win over the New Orleans Saints.

The No. 2 overall draft pick completed 19 of 26 passes for 320 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions in Sunday's victory — making him the first player in league history to amass 300-plus yards passing, two or more passing touchdowns and no interceptions in an NFL debut.

Griffin is also the first rookie quarterback to throw for at least 300 yards and win a season opener.

The league started giving the player of the week awards in 1984.

Parent Category: News
Category: Sports

September 06, 2012

 

By Kenneth Miller

 

[Editor’s note: Ken Miller is an award winning veteran journalist who spent 30 years writing for the L.A. Sentinel and has been a popular guest on local sports talk radio for several years. This is the first edition of his weekly sports column.]

 

Nobody asked me but something really fishy is going on with UCLA recruit Shabazz Muhammad who has yet to be cleared to play by the NCAA.

 

Muhammad was considered among the top two high school seniors of the class of 2012.

 

Rumors circulated early on that the dynamite 6’5 guard had received improper benefits during his high school career.

 

However, I am not buying it! Muhammad got nothing more than any other high school playing on a grassroots basketball circuit dominated by sleazy street agents and power brokering shoe companies.

 

Both his mom and dad are college graduates and way too smart to allow for some peddler to ruin a one and done collegiate career.

 

UCLA would possibly pay a high school super star! Would they…

 

Are you kidding me! Show me a high profile program that does not do a lil something extra for a player the caliber of Muhammad and I’ll show you a D-I program playing like a mid major.

 

They all cheat, within the rules of course.

 

You don’t think UCLA was just a tad desperate following last season’s disaster? Moving into renovated Pauley Pavilion that was half empty during most of “gentle” Ben Howland’s reign. A scathing article by Sports Illustrated citing the program as out of control last season might have been the tip of the iceberg.

 

Let’s hope he is cleared and for How­land’s sake lets hope they win it all…

 

It looks like Serena Williams will be celebrating yet another grand slam after steam rolling into the semi-finals at the US Open in New York.

 

Since that C-Walk that got every body including Black folk riled up she has been the best tennis player on the planet-man or woman!

 

I remember when she wasn’t even the best tennis player in her own family. Venus was first and then probably her dad Richard was second.

 

That was a long time ago. Few remember that Venus is still playing unless it’s doubles with her, and Richard has given birth to another child who I am sure will have absolutely nothing to do with tennis.

 

My sources tell me the girls have about two more years before they retire.

 

Finally, remember when Don King was recognized as the best boxing promoter in the world? Huh! You’re not old enough? Well, I was in Florida last week and had barbeque with him and while there he got a phone call from a certain undefeated fighter.

 

King didn’t take the call though, he was too busy conducting business with a Korean NGO queen and famed Nigerian Filmmaker Jeta Amata.

 

Appears the ‘Only in America Man’ is now an International entrepreneur fostering peace with Korea and promoting the political blockbuster ‘Black November’ that releases in December.

 

It’s football season and let’s see if Michael Vick can stay up right for one regular season game and the Eagles can win a Super Bowl for coach Andy Reid.

 

Meanwhile on the Raiders front, I never cared much for that freckled face Black GM especially after he fired Huey Jackson after just one season.

 

Here’s hoping the Raiders fall into the Black hole.

 

I like that Griffin III kid in DC, but I love Cam Newton better. Peace Out!

 

 

 

Parent Category: News
Category: Sports

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