Saturday, October 30, 2010å ∫ THE ALPENA NEWS ∫ 3B
Lions’ Stafford: 11 games in, 11 missed DETROIT (AP) — The Detroit Lions drafted Matthew Stafford with the No. 1 overall pick last year, hoping he would end their decades-long search for a star quarterback. They still have faith in Stafford, even if the former Georgia star has played as many games as he has been forced to watch because of injuries. He been on the field for 11 games and missed 11 entering Sunday’s game in which he is expected to return from a five-game absence for the Lions (1-5) against the Washington Redskins (4-3). “It’s frustrating,” Stafford acknowledged. “It’s part of the game. Hopefully it’s the part that will let me alone for a while and let me go out there and play.” Stafford hasn’t taken a snap since Week 1, when he was sacked by Chicago’s Julius Peppers, separating his right shoulder. He’s eager to get back on the field. “I’m excited,” he said. The Redskins were excited when they made a bold move in April, acquiring Donovan McNabb from Philadelphia. They’re not so fired up anymore. The six-time Pro Bowl quarterback has his lowest rating since 1999, when the Eagles drafted him No. 2 overall and started him six times. He hasn’t thrown more than one touchdown in any game and had two interceptions in each of the last two lackluster performances. “I think I’ve played pretty well,” McNabb insisted. “Are there some things I would
Burton, Harvick settle spat
Redskins at Lions 1 p.m., Sunday
like to improve on? Absolutely. I look forward to that happening. I think offensively we’ve progressed and a lot of times, I think we’ve been one mistake away.” It’s much too early to determine whether Washington made a mistake by giving up a second-round pick this year and one in the third or fourth round of next year’s draft for a past-his-prime QB. But the Redskins aren’t in a hurry to up their ante on the gamble right now by offering McNabb a contract. His current deal expires following the season. “I’m not upset, there’s things that could happen,” said McNabb, who turns 34 next month. “My focus is on what we need to do here. Everything else will take care of itself if it’s this week, next week, at the end of the year, or whatever. “I expect good things to happen.” The Lions did, too, when they drafted Stafford and gave him $41.7 million in guarantees and as much as $78 million as part of a six-year contract. But he was
knocked out of the opener toward the end of the first half and missed the next five games. “It’s obviously been a while,” Stafford said. “But other than that, I’ve played in my fair share of games.” Stafford has also missed his share. He was out for six games as a rookie in 2009 because of a sore left shoulder and injured right knee that needed surgery. McNabb has played in every game this season and is set to start for the 150th time in the regular season. He took the first snap in at least 14 games in seven seasons with the Eagles, missing chunks of three years with knee, ankle, leg, groin, chest and rib injuries. How much does luck have to do with keeping a quarterback on the field? “A lot,” McNabb said. McNabb didn’t have good fortune on his side in the 10th game of the 2002 season when he broke his right ankle. He was out for nearly two months, then helped Philadelphia beat the Atlanta Falcons in the playoffs. He didn’t feel rusty, but it took him some time to adjust to game speed. McNabb predicts Stafford will have the same experience. “That’s something that he’ll battle through, just getting back into that game tempo,” McNabb said. “It may take a quarter, it may take a game, it may take two games.” Stafford didn’t sound the least bit con-
cerned that his timing with receivers or ability to read defenses would be affected by being on the sideline watching Shaun Hill play for several weeks. “It might take me a play or two to get back into it,” Stafford said. “Once it comes back, I’m sure it’ll be quick and easy.” If it doesn’t, DeAngelo Hall will likely take advantage. Hall tied an NFL record with four interceptions in last week’s 17-14 win against Chicago and has a league-high five this season. The cornerback isn’t cocky about the Redskins’ chances this week, though, because Stafford threw a TD in a mistake-free game that lifted the Lions to a win over Washington last year that ended their 19game skid. “I definitely left that game with a lot more respect than I had going into it,” Hall said. “We definitely respect him a lot. We’ll be ready for him.” The Lions, meanwhile, are preparing for McNabb to play at the high level he has in a couple of games this season and many times over his 12-year career. He threw for 426 yards and a TD without an interception in an overtime loss against Houston, and for 357 yards, a score and an interception in an OT win over Green Bay. “He’s a great quarterback and obviously he’s proven that throughout the years,” Detroit rookie defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh said. “Still at his age, he’s a mobile quarterback who can get out of the pocket, move around and extend plays.”
UConn is preseason No. 1 in women’s basketball By DOUG FEINBERG AP Basketball Writer
TALLADEGA, Ala. (AP) — Richard Childress Racing teammates Kevin Harvick and Jeff Burton declared a truce after their spat on the track at Martinsville. Burton said he and Harvick met Tuesday, and it didn’t take much time to resolve any lingering issues from Sunday’s race. Harvick said it wasn’t a difficult conversation. “A lot can be made out of things that we say on the radio, and obviously neither of us did a very good job at that,” Harvick said Friday at Talladega Superspeedway. “But the thing about Jeff and I is there’s a lot of respect there. We’ve had those spats before, and we can handle those things in about five minutes.” Harvick and Burton both spent a portion of last Sunday’s race at Martinsville complaining to their crews over their in-car radios. Harvick apparently took issue with the way Burton tried to pass him and nudged Burton’s car. Burton then criticized Harvick after the race. Burton compared it to a family argument. “We sat down and had a great meeting and talked
NASCAR driver Kevin Harvick talks with reporters prior to practice for Sunday’s running of the AMP Energy Juice 500 auto race at the Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Ala., Friday. about it and we’ll be better edged that Talladega isn’t third in the series points teammates for it,” Burton the best place to race one standings and a serious said. “Both of us could have week after having a dustup championship contender, handled that situation bet- with a teammate. Because Burton said teammates still ter, both of us had some- of the unique nature of rac- have to worry about themthing to learn from it. It is ing at Talladega, teammates selves first. “We don’t have any team completely over. And generally try to work toagain, I think we will be gether in the draft. But orders that says ‘Hey, go things don’t always go as push Kevin. Go make it so stronger for it.” he can do it,’” Burton said. Burton said there’s al- planned. “You have a situation “If I can help Kevin, I cerways a certain amount of tension between teammates with a teammate, the last tainly will. I won’t do that at because they’re expected to place you want to go is Tal- the jeopardy of hurting me help each other at the same ladega the week after be- and my team and Kevin time they’re trying to beat cause teammates always get wouldn’t want me to.” “Kevin or Richard (Chiltheir feelings hurt here,” each other. “Being teammates is Burton said. “But the real- dress) wouldn’t want us to hard,” Burton said. “You al- ity of it is, and I think we do that,” he added. “This is ways expect more out of handle it really well, is that still racing. We are RCR, your teammate. You are if a teammate can help me, I but at the same time, we trying to be a good team- want him to help me. But I have to go and do the very mate, but you are also try- don’t want him to help me best we can for each indiing to beat your teammate if it is going to hurt them. vidual team. If we don’t do that then I think we really and it’s very, very diffi- That is not fair to them.” While Harvick enters mess with the credibility of cult.” And Burton acknowl- Sunday’s race at Talladega the sport.”
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — A half-hour after Jeff Francoeur hit an easy fly ball to end Game 2, a most curious sight began to unfold in front of the San Francisco dugout. General manager Brian Sabean and maybe 100 members of the Giants staff gathered on the grass Thursday night at AT&T Park, posing for a group picture around a huge trophy. Moments later, the party picked up. Family members joined in. Adults ran the bases, a toddler made a headfirst dive toward home plate. Hugs and high-fives for all. Hundreds of fans cheered from the box seats, horns honked outside the ballpark. Sure looked like the Giants had just won the World Series. They will, too, unless the Texas Rangers can reverse their fortunes at home. Down 2-0, the hitters are slumping, the bullpen is a wreck and the manager is being criticized. A team that did so well in the AL playoffs got battered 11-7 in the opener, then embarrassed 90. “What you do is you just try to analyze what went wrong and just try to correct it,” Texas manager Ron Washington said before Friday’s workout. “Now that we’re home,
we feel comfortable back in this place. Not taking anything away from the Giants, they beat us soundly,” he said. “We’ve just got to come back here, get focused and win a game. We win a game, everything will be fine.” Colby Lewis is set to start Game 3 Saturday night against Giants lefty Jonathan Sanchez. It will be the first Series game in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Signs around Rangers Ballpark proclaimed, “It’s Time!” Francoeur and his teammates hope so. “I think it’s important for us to come out, play well early, get guys on and put pressure on them. Make them feel uncomfortable,” Francoeur said. “They did a good job of making us seem uncomfortable in their park. Hopefully we can turn around and do the same to them.” Lewis, who closed out the Yankees in the AL championship series, will try to stop San Francisco’s scoring spree. Texas has been tagged for 20 runs, the most allowed in a franchise’s first two World Series games, STATS LLC said. Colorado set the previous record of 15 runs in 2007. “If you try to get too amped or too overly confident, I think you get your-
Texas hopes to even World Series at home, stop surging San Francisco self in trouble,” Lewis said. Vladimir Guerrero will rejoin the Texas lineup as the designated hitter. He drove in the first run of this World Series with a single off Tim Lincecum’s leg, but also made two errors in right field and sat out Game 2. Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Pablo Sandoval will be his DH. “We get to get all of our weapons in that lineup,” Washington said. “It’s just comfortable to be back home in front of our fans. We can draw energy from them, and that’s what we need.” They certainly need some sort of boost. “We’re not playing the same. I don’t know what it is,” Texas slugger Nelson Cruz said. “I wish I could tell you. The way we’re playing, it’s different. It’s not us.” Neither is San Francisco, apparently. The week began with many fans wondering whether the Giants could hit enough to win — so far, they’ve become the first NL team to score at least nine runs in back-to-back World Series games. Bochy and the Giants were merely going about their business inside the clubhouse while the postgame festivities took place on the field at AT&T Park, so nobody could ac-
cuse them of celebrating too early. “There’s baseball left,” Bochy said Friday. “Two wins doesn’t get you anything.” Outside, members of the Giants organization whooped it up. They stood around the NL championship trophy — the official picture might’ve been a matter of logistics since there’s no guarantee the Series will return to San Francisco. “See you next year,” some giddy fans told ushers on their way out of the stadium. Others chanted “Sweep! Sweep!” About 400 Giants employees and guests were set to come to Texas. “If anything to see how these fans have come out and brought the enthusiasm, energy, it’s been a lot of fun here playing down the stretch,” Bochy said after the win. Texas was one of baseball’s best home teams this year, the Giants were among the top road clubs. The Rangers also had been doing well on the road — 5-1 in the AL playoffs — before San Francisco stopped them. “Obviously they’re more comfortable where they play. That’s their home ballpark. They’re used to having the DH,” Giants second baseman Freddy Sanchez said.
Connecticut will begin the season the same way it has the last two, atop The Associated Press women’s basketball poll. The Huskies, who have won a record 78 straight games, received 39 of the 40 first-place votes Friday from a national media panel. It’s the eighth time in school history UConn has held the top preseason ranking and 44th straight week that the school was No. 1. The streak dates to Feb. 18, 2008. “I think when people see the success we’ve had in the past and that we have the best player I think it’s just natural to throw us in that spot,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “Overlooking who we lost. But that’s the territory we live in. Comes with the program.” Baylor received the other first-place vote and was second, with Stanford, Tennessee, and Xavier rounding out the first five. The Lady Bears will face Connecticut in an early test on Nov. 16. UConn had been an unanimous choice in the poll for 35 straight weeks. It’s the first time since the second week of 2009 that UConn wasn’t the only pick at No. 1. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writer Paul Zeise picked Baylor to be No. 1. “We aren’t voting on last year’s team, we are voting on this year’s team. And although UConn has the best player, they also have lost a lot of points, rebounds and assists and experience, and will have to rely on a lot of freshmen,” Zeise said. “At some point late in the year they might become the best team, but I can’t imagine they are now.” Connecticut, which also was the preseason No. 1 in 1995, ‘99, 2000, ‘01, ‘03, ‘08, and ‘09, opens Nov. 14 against Holy Cross. The Huskies only trail Tennessee’s 12 appearances at No. 1 in the preseason poll. Baylor, which lost to Connecticut in the national semifinals last season, matched its highest ranking ever. “After having done what we did last year in the playoffs it’s somewhat expected that people think we should be ranked that high,” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey told The Associated Press in a phone interview. “We’re still young, but welcome the ranking.” Stanford, which was beaten by UConn in the title game last season, returns three starters. Coach Pat Summitt has her entire Tennessee roster back from last season, when the Lady Vols won the SEC regular season and tournament championship before falling to Baylor in the NCAA tournament. Xavier returns four starters from the team that finished fifth in the final poll last season and advanced to the regional final before losing to Stanford in the last few seconds. “I think it’s great recognition for our players and the work we put in,” Musketeers coach Kevin McGuff said. “It’s important to keep it in perspective, we’ve got a ton of work to do.” Duke, which was picked to win the Atlantic Coast Conference, was sixth. Ohio State was seventh followed by Texas A&M, Kentucky, and Oklahoma. It’s Kentucky’s highest preseason ranking since 1982, when the Wildcats were eighth. West Virginia is 11th, starting a run of four straight Big East teams. The Mountaineers, who return all five starters from last season, are followed by Notre Dame, Georgetown and St. John’s. The Hoyas are coming off one of the best seasons in school history. They are ranked in the preseason for the first time. The Red Storm’s ranking is the school’s best ever. North Carolina was 15th followed by UCLA, Texas, Florida State, Georgia, and Iowa State. Maryland, Iowa, TCU, Vanderbilt and Michigan State round out the poll. The Tar Heels were one of five teams in the poll not ranked at the end of last season. The others are Maryland, Iowa, Vanderbilt, and TCU, which is ranked in the preseason for the second time ever.
Detroit drops home opener to Thunder
AUBURN HILLS (AP) — Jeff Green made a layup with 2.5 seconds left, lifting the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 105104 win over the Detroit Pistons on Friday night. The Pistons were out of timeouts at the end of the game and failed to attempt a shot. Charlie Villanueva made a go-ahead 3-pointer with 7.5 seconds left, but Detroit’s defense allowed the Thunder to make one too many easy shots with the game on the line. The Thunder made their first 24 free throws and 37 of 44 overall, but Kevin Durant missed one with 14 seconds left and Serge Ibaka split a pair with 18 seconds to go to give Detroit a chance. Durant finished with 30 points and Green had 21. Ben Gordon had 32 points and Rodney Stuckey scored 24 for the Pistons.