National Sports Briefs

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 15, 2009

Associated Press
RALEIGH ó Toney Baker figures he has already knocked off the rust from nearly two years of being on the sideline for North Carolina State. That’s a good sign for the Wolfpack’s depth in the backfield.
The running back suffered a season-ending knee injury in the 2007 opener, then missed last year after having a surgery to clean up loose cartilage in his right knee. Yet he sounds ready to get back on the field for the Wolfpack as the team pushes through preseason workouts.
“In the spring, I was trying to figure out what I could do and how I was going to feel,” the senior said recently. “Right now, I’m just trying to get ready for South Carolina (on Sept. 3).”
Baker’s return would bolster the Wolfpack’s depth behind starter Jamelle Eugene at a position that has been plagued by injuries in recent seasons. The 5-foot-10, 225-pound senior has rushed for nearly 1,300 yards with 11 touchdowns in his career, so he would be a welcome addition in coach Tom O’Brien’s third season.
“I don’t know that he was totally sure of himself in the spring, so I think the starting point is much different (in preseason) than it was,” O’Brien said. “He’s still not all the way back to where he was, but he’s tracking in that direction, which is good news for our football team.”
Baker said the loose cartilage was interfering with his ability to bend his knee easily. Instead, the joint would sometimes stick until it finally popped audibly before moving normally.
Baker said he’s not having any trouble with the injury itself. He ices it every now and then ó though he’s quick to point out, “Everybody’s icing right now.”
“For him to be able to come back and do it twice, go out there and just put in the effort, and not complain and not moan, that just showed the real man that he is,” Eugene said.
Baker said he is eligible to apply for a sixth year of eligibility, though he doesn’t know if he’ll end up doing that. Instead, he’s focused on proving he’s back by the opener against the Gamecocks.
“I think you have to every year whether you’re injured or not,” he said. “That’s the beauty of football, especially in this program. No matter what you do, you’ve got to earn your spot and you’ve got to prove yourselves.”
– CLEMSON, S.C. ó Clemson coach Dabo Swinney isn’t ready to say who his starting quarterback will be.
Swinney wouldn’t name a starter after Saturday’s scrimmage.
Sophomore Willy Korn and freshman Kyle Parker are the front runners to lead the Tigers offense this fall. Korn was 5 of 11 passing for 56 yards in the two-hour session at Death Valley. Parker was 5 of 10 for 39 yards.
But Swinney says he’s still evaluating the position and was pleased that both played well and worked hard.
MIAMI ó Quentin Richardson was traded for the fourth time since the end of last season, moving from the Minnesota Timberwolves to the Miami Heat in exchange for center Mark Blount.
Richardson, who can play both shooting guard and small forward, is a close friend and workout partner of Heat star Dwyane Wade, the reigning NBA scoring champion.
– CLEVELAND ó If he had to leave one Eastern Conference powerhouse, Leon Powe is happy to join another.
Powe signed a two-year deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers this week even though he isn’t expected back on the court until sometime around the All-Star break. He was cut loose by the Boston Celtics after he tore the ACL in his left knee during the playoffs, requiring surgery in May.
MONTREAL ó Britain’s Andy Murray defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France and Juan Martin Del Potro ousted Andy Roddick in the semifinals of the Rogers Cup on Saturday.
Del Potro beat Roddick 4-6, 6-2, 7-5. He also defeated the fifth-seeded American in a third-set tiebreaker in the final of a tournament in Washington on Sunday.