National Sports Briefs

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 29, 2009

Associated Press
RALEIGH ó North Carolina State has developed a knack for finishing strong under coach Tom O’Brien. It’s getting started that has been the problem.
After lackluster losses in both of his season openers in Raleigh, O’Brien is hoping to begin his third year with a win for a change.
Calling next week’s opener against South Carolina “a measuring stick” for his program, the N.C. State coach said Friday that he’s eager to see how far his Wolfpack have come since starting last season with a blowout loss in Columbia.
He bristled at suggestions that N.C. State is out to avenge last year’s embarrassment, insisting that “there’s no such thing as revenge. It’s our fault we lost 34-0.”
But at the very least, it’s clear the Wolfpack still have something left to prove.
The biggest reason why things could be different this time: His team has plenty of proven answers at its most important positions ó at quarterback and along both lines.
“We’ve got a couple questions at a couple different spots, but we don’t have questions at key spots,” O’Brien said. “Those are things where we’ve won football games. We’ve won because we’re good up front and have good quarterback play. In that, we’re a lot more experienced than we were a year ago.”
– SYRACUSE, N.Y. ó Greg Paulus is one of four captains for the Syracuse Orange.
The former Duke point guard, now Syracuse’s starting quarterback, was elected by his teammates despite just one more year of college eligibility.
MONTREAL ó Marcos Ambrose has won the Nationwide Series pole at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in the rain.
Ambrose turned a fast lap of 80.905 mph to hold off Carl Edwards, whose best lap was 80.116 mph. Defending race winner Ron Fellows of Canada was third in 79.717 mph, followed by fellow road race ace Boris Said.
Brad Coleman was fifth, followed by former Formula One star Jacques Villeneuve, who made a gallant run on the track named after his father despite standing water on the 14-turn, 2.7-mile street course.
Series points leader Kyle Busch will start 12th.
Showers are in the forecast for Sunday’s race. Last year’s Nationwide race in Montreal was the first and only NASCAR race ever run on rain tires.
JERSEY CITY, N.J. ó Steve Marino ran off three straight birdies late in the third round Saturday for a 3-under 68 to catch Paul Goydos for a share of the lead at The Barclays and give himself another shot at his first PGA Tour victory.
On a Liberty National course shortened by 355 yards, a bunch of other players felt the same way about their chances.
Even Tiger Woods.
Despite missing six putts inside 12 feet ó one of them for eagle ó Woods made two big pars on the back nine and shot a 67 that left him five shots out of the lead going into the final round.
– SNOQUALMIE, Wash. ó Mark McNulty shot a 7-under 65 to share the lead with Loren Roberts heading to the final round at the Boeing Classic.
– NORTH PLAINS, Ore. ó Rookie Anna Nordqvist’s 3-under 69 moved her into a 1-shot lead over Seon Hwa Lee and Ai Miyazato going into the final round of the Safeway Classic.
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. ó A judge approved Michael Vick’s plan to repay creditors $20 million and emerge from bankruptcy, and the quarterback hustled out of court to prepare for his return to an NFL field later in the night with the Philadelphia Eagles.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Frank J. Santoro said while Vick is “at the pinnacle of his profession,” he has proven unable to manage his finances in the past and ordered him to retain a financial planner as a condition of approval. The reorganization was overwhelmingly approved in a ballot of creditors and by their representatives in court.
COLLEGE HOOPSLAWRENCEBURG, Ky. ó Former Kentucky basketball coach Billy Gillispie was arraigned on a drunken driving charge after refusing sobriety tests during an early morning traffic stop in which officers said they smelled alcohol on his breath.
Police say they arrested Gillispie at 2:47 a.m. along a highway in Lawrenceburg about 30 miles from Lexington, where Gillispie coached the Wildcats until he was fired in March.
– PITTSBURGH ó Pittsburgh has suspended forward Gilbert Brown from the men’s basketball team for the fall semester because of academic reasons.
NEW YORK ó Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal could meet in the U.S. Open final for the first time. Serena and Venus Williams will not be able to reprise their sibling rivalry in the year’s last Grand Slam final.
The No. 1-seeded Federer and No. 3 Nadal were drawn into opposite halves of the field for the U.S. Open, which begins Monday. They have played in seven major finals as Nos. 1-2, with Nadal holding a 5-2 edge.
The Williams sisters won’t have a rematch of their Wimbledon final, in which Serena beat Venus for her 11th Grand Slam singles title. That was the sisters’ eighth all-in-the-family final at a major, and Serena leads 6-2. But at the U.S. Open, the second-seeded Serena and No. 3 Venus were drawn for a possible semifinal.
SAN JOSE, Calif. ó The San Jose Sharks traded veteran defensemen Christian Ehrhoff and Brad Lukowich to the Vancouver Canucks for two prospects in a move to create space under the salary cap.
Vancouver also signed 40-year-old free agent defenseman Mathieu Schneider to a one-year contract on Friday. The Canucks are counting on their newest acquisitions to solidify a defense that lost Mattias Ohlund to free agency earlier this summer.