National sports briefs
NEW YORK — Steve Lavin had been away from his team for just more than a month. He decided to return to the bench about 31/2 hours before St. John’s played its second game of the season.
God’sgift Achiuwa had 21 points on a perfect shooting night and added eight rebounds as St. John’s rallied from a 14-point second-half deficit for a 78-73 victory over Lehigh on Wednesday night to give Lavin a win in his return from prostate cancer surgery.
“It was inevitable I would return and the thinking was the sooner we begin that transition the better,” Lavin said. “It’s always a challenging dimension to transition back with your team coming off a health issue like I had. Since I was aiming for Sunday anyway, what’s the difference by three days? Around 3:30 that logic won out.”
• NORMAN, Okla.— Oklahoma paid former basketball coach Jeff Capel $1.75 million in addition to his monthly salary after firing him following back-to-back losing seasons.
According to documents released Wednesday to The Associated Press in response to an open records request, Oklahoma continued to pay Capel his monthly salary through the end of June, under the terms of his contract. In addition to that, the documents show that Capel also received $500,000 extra at the end of May and a $1.25 million lump sum at the end of June.
Capel was fired in March after the Sooners had their first consecutive losing seasons since 1966-67.
• PROVO, Utah — BYU’s Brandon Davies feels like a changed man after a six-month suspension that ended his last season and left him as a spectator while the Cougars made a run to the round of 16 in the NCAA tournament.
“Honestly, I think I’m a totally different person,” Davies said Tuesday. “It hurt. Not just me, but everyone around me. It’s definitely something I’ll never forget about and something I never want to do again, so I just use that to drive me in all that I do today.”
Davies was suspended in March because of violations of the school’s honor code. The school does not discuss the nature of suspensions but under the honor code students are prohibited from having premarital sex and drinking alcoholic beverages, among other things.
SYDNEY — Dustin Johnson led a small group of Americans who got off to a good start Thursday in the Australian Open as their tuneup for the Presidents Cup.
One of their better scores belonged to someone who won’t even be playing in matches — U.S. captain Fred Couples.
Jarrod Lyle of Australia had a 7-under 65 and to take the lead among the early starters at The Lakes. He had a one-shot lead over Johnson, who overcame a sloppy start by running off five straight birdies on the back nine.
“I was a little rusty,” Johnson said. “It was my first time in competition for about six weeks.”
PARIS — Novak Djokovic dismissed Ivan Dodig of Croatia 6-4, 6-3 in the Paris Masters second round on Wednesday showing no signs of the shoulder injury that bothered him last weekend at the Swiss Indoors.
The top-ranked Serb had complained of shoulder pains in his semifinal loss to Kei Nishikori in Basel. But he said he was fine after practice on Tuesday.
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — A representative for Cuban center fielder Yoenis Cespedes says he is preparing to showcase the slugger for several major league teams.
Edgar Mercedes is an adviser for Cespedes, who recently defected from Cuba and now lives in the Dominican Republic. The 26-year-old slugger is tied with Fernando Despaigne for the Cuban League’s home run record with 32.
Mercedes said Wednesday Cespedes is sure to generate a bidding war. His agent is Adam Katz.
CARACAS, Venezuela — Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos was abducted by gunmen Wednesday from his home in his native Venezuela.
Ramos, 24, was taken away in an SUV by four armed men in Santa Ines in central Carabobo state, Kathe Vilera, spokeswoman for the catcher’s Venezuelan League team, said through her official Twitter account.
“This is sad, worrisome and true that Wilson Ramos has been kidnapped,” she said. Ramos was playing winter ball with the Aragua Tigers.
She said the rising Major League Baseball star was kidnapped at 6:45 p.m. local time (2315 GMT) and that police have been notified. Santa Ines lies about 150 kilometers (95 miles) west of Venezuela’s capital, Caracas.
A person close to Ramos’ family, who asked not to be named for safety reasons, said the catcher was at home with his father and brothers when several men “entered the house and took him away.”
“As of this hour, there has been no contact” between the kidnapper and Ramos’ family, the person said.