National Sports Briefs: Bobcats want to be running team
CHARLOTTE ó It’s become a familiar scene after only two days of Charlotte Bobcats training camp: A defensive player grabs a rebound and coach Larry Brown’s voice grows loud.
“Go, go, go!” he yells.
A season after being the NBA’s lowest scoring team, Brown wants the Bobcats to become an up-tempo, fastbreak club by taking advantage of Gerald Wallace’s driving ability, the addition of athletic newcomers Tyson Chandler and Gerald Henderson and an array of big ballhandlers.
“I think the personnel changes that they made and the players that they added, it’s going make us a naturally running team,” Chandler said Wednesday. “Coach isn’t going to have to scream about running all the time.”
For now Brown is pushing his players to quickly move the ball up the floor after missed shots.
“We want to. Look at our team. We’ve got pretty good team speed,” Brown said. “I don’t think we ran with five people last year. We’ve got to run with five people. So we want to really make an effort.”
The Bobcats ran little last season in part because they had a traditional center, Emeka Okafor, who wasn’t out on many fastbreaks. But Okafor was traded in the offseason for Chandler, who’s more athletic and capable of playing power forward, too.
Add speedy point guards Raymond Felton and D.J. Augustin and Boris Diaw’s unique ballhandling ability for a power forward, and the Bobcats think their best bet to increase last season’s 35-win total is to run.
“Guys can’t stop just because the ball is not in the point guard’s hands,” Chandler said. “That’s the only way you can fast break. If Raymond is denied or D.J. is denied, we have to still be able to move. We have to make them pay for that.”
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. ó Here’s a sure way to change West Virginia coach Bill Stewart’s mood: mention last year’s game at Colorado.
The Mountaineers ran for 311 yards, yet found the end zone just twice in the 17-14 overtime loss. Visions of Buffaloes quarterback Cody Hawkins throwing for two scores in the first five minutes still irk Stewart, who hopes Colorado’s offense is on the sidelines as much as possible on Thursday night.
“We’re going to try to keep them off balance and try to keep them off rhythm,” Stewart said.
– NEW YORK ó The teams are set, one from the Big East, one from the Big 12. The site: The new $1.5 billion Yankee Stadium.
Now all the new bowl game in the Bronx needs is a name before its debut in December 2010.
“If you’re looking for suggestions, maybe we should call it the Jeter Bowl,” Bronx Borough president Ruben Diaz Jr. said Wednesday at a news conference to announce the bowl.
NEW YORK ó Michael Vick is back with Nike two years after the company severed ties over the quarterback’s involvement in a dogfighting ring.
The endorsement is the latest step forward for Vick as he seeks to rehabilitate his career and his image after serving 18 months in federal prison. On Sunday, Vick played his first regular-season game since December 2006.
CONCORD ó Jimmie Johnson has three championships under his belt and is full steam ahead in pursuit of a fourth.
Seven, though? He doesn’t think he’s got that in him.
The three-time defending champion said Wednesday he believes the NASCAR record of seven titles will probably never be broken. The mark is shared by Richard Petty and the late Dale Earnhardt.
Johnson’s teammate, Jeff Gordon, leads all active drivers with four championships ó a mark Johnson is trying to equal this season.
“Man, seven, I don’t think it’s possible,” Johnson said at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, where he was seated next to Petty after a small ceremony declaring the two drivers “Kings of the Sport.”
“With what Richard did and what Earnhardt Sr. did, I just don’t think seven is a number you are going to get to. It’s tough. You look at Jeff, trying to get his fifth, and all the success he’s had, I think they’re safe up there with seven. I hope to prove them wrong, I’m not saying I don’t want to try, but we’re at three.”
NEW YORK ó The Yankees’ home attendance has dropped 13 percent in the first year of their new ballpark, partly because of its reduced capacity.
The final regular-season attendance at the new Yankee Stadium was an average of 45,918 for 81 regular-season home games. That’s down from an average of 52,928, for the final season at the old Yankee Stadium.