National Sports Briefs
STORRS, Conn. ó Jim Calhoun and the Connecticut basketball team left 80-degree weather and returned to a cold rain, and it never felt so good.
ěBut you know what,î the UConn coach said. ěWeíre home.î
The Huskiesí charter flight arrived from Houston on Tuesday afternoon. On hand to greet the NCAA champions were Connecticutís governor.
Calhoun and star guard Kemba Walker addressed the crowd of several dozen fans that huddled under umbrellas along a fence near the runway at Bradley Airport in Windsor Locks.
ěYou folks, since the moment I came here in 1986, have made this all special,î the 68-year-old Hall of Fame coach said. ěAnd I told you someday if you stay with us, weíre going to make you feel so proud of us.î
The team, picked to finish 10th in the Big East in the preseason, beat Butler 53-41 Monday night to complete a remarkable 11-0 run through the postseason that also included a Big East tournament championship. This was the third NCAA championship for the Huskies, the other menís titles coming in 1999 and 2004.
ěYou are an inspiration to your fellow citizens here in Connecticut. You are a great pride to your university,î Gov. Dannel P. Malloy told them. ěThis team, just amazing.î
SAN FRANCISCO ó Barry Bonds admits using steroids during his baseball career, his lawyer told a jury Tuesday. The catch is that Bonds’ personal trainer misled him into believing he was taking flax seed oil and arthritis cream.
“I know that doesn’t make a great story,” Allen Ruby said during his opening statement at the home run leader’s perjury trial. “But that’s what happened.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Matt Parrella called such claims “ridiculous and unbelievable” and portrayed Bonds as a liar during his first chance to present the government’s position.
And so the crux of the criminal case against Bonds was laid before an eight-woman, four-man jury as the testimony phase of the trial got under way. Bonds has pleaded not guilty to four charges of lying to a grand jury in 2003 when he denied knowingly taking steroids and one count of obstruction.
CHARLOTTE ó Jimmie Johnson admitted Tuesday he was speeding on pit road at Martinsville, and apologized for criticizing NASCAR over his late-race penalty.
But the five-time defending champion remained adamant that NASCAR should post pit road speeds in real time, and had the information been readily available, he wouldn’t have argued the penalty. Johnson said he learned of his pit road speeds on Monday.
“If pit road segment times were broadcast live for everyone to review, it would eliminate the finger pointing,” Johnson said in a conference call with reporters.
“It’s probably not good for me to climb out of the car and call NASCAR’s credibility into judgment, and I apologize for that. When you’re only dealing with part of the information and heat of the moment, it’s easy to react.”
MINNEAPOLIS ó The NFL lockout is headed for the courtroom.
Attorneys for Tom Brady, Drew Brees and other players are scheduled to argue Wednesday before U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson that the lockout should be lifted immediately because it is causing them “irreparable harm.”
The league contends the request shouldn’t be heard until the National Labor Relations Board weighs in on its claim that the players’ union negotiated in bad faith.
It will be the first time the two sides meet in court since the lockout was imposed more than three weeks ago. There have been no fresh talks to settle the labor impasse.