National sports briefs: Sharapova returns to action after 10-month absence
WARSAW, Poland ó Wearing strips of white tape on her right shoulder, Maria Sharapova played her first singles match on tour in nearly 10 months.
While she won Monday, her game did show signs of rust.
The three-time Grand Slam title winner needed nine match points to finally put away 68th-ranked Tathiana Garbin 6-1, 6-7 (6-8), 6-3 in the first round of the Warsaw Open.
“When you haven’t been there, haven’t done that in a while, it throws you off a little bit,” said Sharapova, whose last competitive singles match was July 30, “and then there you are after nine months, and you have an opportunity to win your first match back, and you start thinking of everything that’s gone on, and you kind of lose the present time.”
The Russian had surgery for a torn rotator cuff last year and missed the past two Grand Slam tournaments. She wouldn’t discuss the French Open, which starts Sunday ó and is the only major championship she hasn’t won.
She’s now ranked 126th.
PORTLAND, Ore. ó About the only guy in town who seemed upset when Jerry Glanville was hired as Portland State’s football coach a couple years back was Sam Sachs.
Glanville, a gregarious and well-liked man who had NFL experience, was widely hailed as someone who would raise the Vikings’ profile both on and off the field.
But Sachs saw Glanville’s swift hiring as an example of what’s wrong with college football.
A graduate student at Portland State at the time, Sachs said he had no personal stake in the school’s hiring decision but was nonetheless dismayed to see a white coach sweep into the job without consideration of minority candidates.
Two years later, Sachs is the driving force behind proposed legislation that would require Oregon universities to seek diverse applicants for coaching positions.
Sachs’ proposal, inspired by the NFL’s Rooney Rule, comes at a time when some are calling on the NCAA to adopt a similar policy, especially when it comes to college football. Nine of the 120 head football coaches in FBS programs are minorities.
“I think it’s a great step. I think the state of Oregon, by putting this into place, would cause other states to take notice. It would be a positive step in the landscape of a very difficult and complex issue of hiring,” said Floyd Keith, executive director of the Black Coaches and Administrators organization. “The statement it makes is that they’re asking for universities to be inclusive and diverse in the search.”
* VERNON, Conn. ó Prosecutors have dropped criminal charges against Connecticut linebacker Scott Lutrus, who was arrested last month during the start of the school’s Spring Weekend festivities.
Lutrus was charged with interfering with police after a fight at an apartment complex.
OXFORD, Miss. ó Former Indiana guard Nick Williams will transfer to Mississippi.
The 6-foot-4 Alabama native fills the roster spot left open when David Huertas decided to forego his senior season to play professional basketball in Puerto Rico.
Williams averaged 8.9 points and 4.5 rebounds per game for the Hoosiers. He scored in double figures 14 times, with a career high of 19 points against Wisconsin.
STORRS, Conn. ó Minnesota assistant women’s basketball coach Marisa Moseley is taking a similar job with Connecticut.
Moseley will replace Jamelle Elliott, who left UConn to become head coach at Cincinnati.
WEMBLEY, England ó David Beckham teamed up with Prime Minister Gordon Brown to launch England’s bid for the 2018 World Cup on Monday, saying that winning the right to host would be as satisfying as anything he’s accomplished on the field.
“It would be up there with winning (trophies) and the success I’ve had in my career because to be part of a successful bid, like I was with the Olympics, would be a huge honor,” the former England captain said.
England is competing against the United States, Australia, Mexico, Russia, Indonesia and Japan, as well as possible joint bids by Spain and Portugal and the Netherlands and Belgium. FIFA’s executive committee will make the decision in December 2010.
CUNEO, Italy ó Lance Armstrong was apologetic and avoided launching into a verbal war with race organizers following the protest that marred the ninth stage of the Giro d’Italia.
“It’s an unfortunate situation, an accumulation of days and days of frustration and I think fear on a lot of people’s parts and then this war of words and this war of power afterwards that we have to avoid,” Armstrong said in a video message Monday, the Giro’s first rest day.
Armstrong played an integral role in a group protest that ended up annulling times in Sunday’s stage because riders considered the city circuit through downtown Milan overly dangerous.
Armstrong was seen discussing the perils of the circuit with the race organization’s car as he pedaled through Milan, and he stood next to overall leader Danilo Di Luca when the Italian addressed the fans in the middle of the stage with a microphone to explain the protest, interrupting the race briefly.
For most of the stage, the pack pedaled far below its normal pace, denying fans a chance to see quality racing.