ORLANDO, Fla. — Tacko Fall scored 20 points and grabbed nine rebounds as UCF served Northern Kentucky its first loss of the season with a 66-53 victory on Saturday night.Fall was 7 of 8 from the field for the Knights (5-1). Aubrey Dawkins added 12 points and five rebounds and B.J. Taylor had 10 points, five rebounds and three assists.UCF shot 44 per cent from the field overall compared to 32 per cent for Northern Kentucky and had a 51-35 rebounding advantage.UCF led by a slim margin through most of the low-scoring first period and back-to-back 3-pointers by McDonald and Dawkins pushed it to 24-19 with 7:24 left in the half. The Knights were up 34-32 at the break.The Knights opened the second half on a 19-6 run featuring 3-pointers by Dawkins and Collin Smith and dunks by Fall and Smith to stretch it to 53-38 with 14:55 left.Drew McDonald scored 22 points and grabbed eight rebounds to lead the Norse (6-1).The Associated Press
TOKYO — Sheikh Ahmad al Fahad al Sabah, who has stepped away temporarily from the presidency of an Olympic umbrella group to fight a criminal court case in Switzerland, was praised by IOC President Thomas Bach on Thursday.“We have said, first of all, that we respect the decision he took under his own will and we recognize that this decision, his decision, was taken in the interests of all of us,” Bach told 1,400 delegates of the Association of National Olympic Committees.The Kuwaiti sheikh last week also suspended himself from his 26-year membership in the International Olympic Committee in order to fight the corruption case.He has said he’s innocent and says the case is “politically motivated.”ANOC senior vice-president Robin Mitchell will serve as the acting president. Mitchell said he had no idea how long that would be for.Sheikh Ahmad is accused by Geneva public prosecutors of forgery in an alleged faked arbitration case involving four others.“We hope we can see him back here very soon after his case is solved,” Bach told delegates, who applauded warmly.Many credit Sheikh Ahmad with swinging votes to get Bach elected in 2013.Bach also lectured the delegates about the need for good governance: “Maybe you don’t want to hear it anymore. But I will not get tired of repeating it with regard to good governance: What affects one of us affects all of us.”The IOC has been hit with embarrassing corruption cases. Sheikh Ahmad is the third IOC member recently to be suspended — or self-suspended. A fourth, honorary member Carlos Nuzman who headed the 2016 Olympics, is also suspended.___More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_SportsStephen Wade, The Associated Press
With last Saturday’s launch of Fox Sports 1 across American television sets, ESPN may soon find itself in a long bout in the ratings ring. The new network is owned by Fox Entertainment Group, and has been creating a buzz among sports fans and media outlets since news surfaced of its creation in March.Sports fans have long cried foul over ESPN’s exaggerated coverage of the biggest sports in the biggest markets.Sportscenter routinely shows long highlights of Miami Heat games at the beginning of its broadcast while holding off news of a big-name hockey trade until the program’s final minutes. When was the last time a Yankees and Red Sox weekend series didn’t end on Sunday Night Baseball? But who can blame them really? At the end of the day it’s a ratings game, and the biggest markets have the largest number of television sets in them.This presumed weakness is where I expect Fox Sports 1 to exploit ESPN: sweeping up ratings from large geographical areas that lack the country’s most popular athletes and teams.Take Fox Sports 1’s debut lineup for example. It featured seven hours of NASCAR coverage followed by five hours of UFC bouts. I highly doubt that many people in their New York City apartment tuned in for a minute of all that, but I know some parts of the country found themselves glued to the couch and their TV set for hours. The new network has deals to begin running select NASCAR events as early as 2015 and will have UFC events on Wednesday nights. They also maintain the rights to air certain soccer events including the UEFA Champions League, Europa League and CONCACAF Champions League.ESPN will probably see a slow fall from its monopoly over sports coverage, but this has been evident for some time. Some of its biggest names have jumped ship for other networks over the past year. Erin Andrews, Bill Raftery andCharissa Thompson all left “The Mothership” (as NBC Sports and radio personality Dan Patrick refers to his former employer) to join Fox’s crew.The crucible of this whole debate most likely lies within these networks’ ability to draw ratings in the 11 o’clock hour. Sportscenter has long been the common man’s go-to program at the end of the day for scores and highlights. Fox Sports 1 will air Fox Sports Live at 11 p.m. in an effort to steal viewers from Sportscenter, which has run nonstop in that time slot since its debut in 1979.One thing’s for certain, ESPN is not going to sit back and wait to see whether or not Fox Sports 1 is a legitimate threat. The network has already thrown its first punch back, announcing the return of former outspoken Sportscenter anchor Keith Olbermann. The journalist left ESPN under a cloud of controversy in 1997 after referring to the Bristol, Conn., as a “Godforsaken place” during an unauthorized appearance on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show.”His show, titled “Olbermann,” will air Monday-Friday at 11 p.m. on ESPN2 beginning Aug. 26. ESPN is surely hoping the rarely polite, but always intriguing figure, is another piece of the puzzle in winning the 11 p.m. hour.If nothing else, the battle between these two juggernauts over the next few years will be just one more rivalry to keep track of for those like me, addicted to all things competition.
FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke (right) shows Germany’s name during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Draw Dec. 6 in Costa do Sauipe, Brazil.Courtesy of MCTStill weathering the blowback of its 2010 decision to select Qatar as the host nation of 2022’s World Cup, FIFA’s Executive Committee is off to a rocky start once again this year.Secretary General Jerome Valcke said in a France Info radio interview Wednesday the FIFA World Cup would not take place during the summer months of 2022.This appeared at first to simply corroborate — but also expand upon — a September 2013 statement by President Sepp Blatter that cited the danger that extremely hot temperatures in the Middle East in June and July would pose to player and fan safety alike.The only difference was that Blatter said the Executive Committee would wait until the completion of this year’s World Cup in Brazil before formally adjudicating the logistics of 2022’s event.Widely regarded as Blatter’s de facto second-in-command, Valcke has managed with one passing comment to call into question his boss’ ability to lead and control the Committee. Contradicting his superior now gives shape to the perception that the 26-member team doesn’t know how to tightly regulate its public relations activities.More to the point, the situation makes one wonder how capable the organization, as a whole, really is.One of seven vice-presidents on the Committee, Jim Boyce said he was “completely shocked” in a statement to Sky Sports News after hearing of Valcke’s commentary, a clear indication the members are not on the same page.How can FIFA be expected to properly organize and run a quadrennial international soccer competition worth billions of dollars in revenue when its own leaders can’t even agree in the spotlight?The miscommunication might not seem like a big deal upon initial consideration. Since FIFA has publicly stated it won’t be changing the host country to mollify critics of the 2010 decision, the only real option involves the formality of voting to move the tournament dates to the wintertime.But Valcke’s conversational delivery of the comments could prove more damaging than the actual content of what he said. Operating in an official capacity on record, he should have refused to discuss the tentative date changes on-air in order to show consistency with his boss’ decree that a ruling would wait until after a champion is crowned in Brazil.Valcke’s undisciplined statement reflects poorly on the interpersonal communication (or lack thereof) taking place within FIFA and between its top personnel.Undermining Blatter’s authority like this proclamation does — a proclamation that was neither sanctioned nor collectively agreed upon by the Committee that has yet to deliberate on the matter — makes FIFA look like it has a long way to go before any sort of positive reputation is restored.The World Cup in Qatar is still eight years away. But building the facilities and infrastructure to support a colossal sporting and cultural event takes time. So does working out deals with corporate partners and figuring out scheduling breaks in seasons of professional soccer leagues worldwide to allow players to compete for their countries.For an event of this magnitude, it seems jarringly reactive of the Executive Committee to not have anticipated all the logistical difficulties that could come with holding the 2022 World Cup during a less traditional time of year.FIFA’s leadership should be able to make these sorts of judgment calls long before mishandling their dissemination like Valcke did today.It’s an understatement that this is not exactly the professional impression soccer fans might hope to get from the brass of a federation responsible for managing the affairs of the world’s most lucrative and popular sport.
Ohio State then-sophomore guard C.J. Jackson looks to pass over two defenders against Nebraska on Feb. 18 at the Schottenstein Center. Credit: Alexa Mavrogianis | Former Photo EditorJunior guard C.J. Jackson started nine games last season, his first as an Ohio State Buckeye.This season, he will be counted on to be the team’s only true point guard. “The point guard — floor general — just kind of keeps the team together,” Jackson said at Ohio State men’s basketball media day. “That’s kind of what I do right now.”Jackson’s role and importance increased with the departure of JaQuan Lyle, the third-leading scorer during the 2016-2017 season who quit the team in April and transferred to New Mexico. Jackson will have help from redshirt senior shooting guard Kam Williams, a returning starter with no in-game experience at point guard. Williams said he and redshirt junior forward Keita Bates-Diop and senior forward Jae’Sean Tate have been honing their skills to adapt to Ohio State’s lack of depth at point guard.“We all have [worked on ball handling] cause we know C.J. is our only true, true point guard,” Williams said. “So we’ve gathered in the summer to prepare if we’re ever in that situation — so I think all of us will step up and take his place if needed.”Bates-Diop and Tate said they have also been working on ball handling, but need to practice playing point guard in practice as well to grow more comfortable at the position. Bates-Diop said he sees Williams growing more comfortable at the position with more experience running the offense at practice, which Jackson did throughout last season. Jackson’s numbers overall at the end of the 2016-17 season were not that of a future starter. He averaged less than six points per game and shooting below 40 percent both from the field and beyond the arc. He improved late in the season, however, and helped give his numbers a boost over the last seven games, averaging 10.7 points, 3.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.1 steals per game over the stretch. The Eastern Florida Community College transfer found a rhythm with his jump shot as he shot 51.9 percent from the field and 53.8 percent from behind the 3-point line, making 14-of-26 3-point makes in his final seven games last season.While ball handling and shooting represent important skills to succeed at point guard, there is more to running an offense and leading a team. Jackson has a quiet demeanor, but sophomore forward/center Micah Potter said he has no concerns about the point guard’s ability to lead.“It’s kind of like a Mike Conley type thing — he’s not a crazy outspoken guy either — but just his ability to keep himself under control and just kind of be a quiet leader like he’ll say things here and there,” Potter said. “It will never be boisterous or anything like that, but just his ability to keep himself under control and lead in that way is huge as a point guard.”Potter might be onto something with his reference to former Conley, who was recently inducted into the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame. The former Buckeye led Ohio State to the 2007 national title game and starts at point guard for the Memphis Grizzlies. Conley told reporters at halftime of the Ohio State-Maryland football game that Jackson must be able to lead the team on and off the court.“He’s got to be able to command the ball and command the team’s respect, and go out there and handle it like a point guard is supposed to,” Conley said.Conley added he believes that the junior point guard has what it takes.“I have confidence in him — I’m excited for him,” Conley said. “I think he’s been working for it, so I’m looking forward to it.”To be able to lead, a point guard has to trust himself. With such significant roster turnover, Jackson has an opportunity to break out as a key contributor for the Buckeyes. Tate said he has the utmost confidence Jackson will take advantage.“At the point guard position (Jackson’s) going to be the guy. And for a university this big and what stage we’re on — that’s big, that’s huge,” Tate said. “And he’s approaching the situation great and he’s been working hard. He seems more confident than he has in the past and I’m very excited to see what he does this year leading us on the floor.”