AP source: Pitt fires coach Kevin Stallings
PITTSBURGH (AP) — The worst season in Pittsburgh basketball history has cost head coach Kevin Stallings his job.
A person with direct knowledge of the situations said Stallings was let go by the university on Thursday, just two days after the Panthers completed an 8-24 season that included an 0-19 mark in Atlantic Coast Conference play. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the university had not made a formal announcement.
Stallings went just 24-41 in two season at Pitt after replacing Jamie Dixon in March 2016. The Panthers were a perennial NCAA Tournament team under Dixon but Stallings struggled from the outset.
Pitt finished 16-17 in his first season despite having senior stars Michael Young and Jamel Artis. Stallings restocked the roster heading into the season, bringing in 11 new players. Whatever thin margin for error the Panthers had vanished when senior forward Ryan Luther was lost for the year with a foot injury in December. Without the most experience player, Pitt simply couldn’t keep up in arguably the nation’s toughest conference.
Judge: Shoulder feels good; strongly leading toward skipping Home Run Derby
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Yankees slugger Aaron Judge says he is “right on track” to be ready for opening day, after having arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder in November.
He says the shoulder has been feeling good after a bit of soreness early in spring training.
Judge also says he is strongly leaning toward not taking part in the Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game.
The 2017 AL Rookie of the Year, who had 52 homers and 114 RBIs in his first full major league season, won the derby last season in Miami. He called it “a cool experience,” but he doesn’t think he needs to do it again. But he’s not completely ruling it out.
Serena Williams set for 1st-round match at Indian Wells
INDIAN WELLS, Calif. (AP) — Serena Williams makes her return to the pro tour after a 14-month absence with a first-round match at the BNP Paribas Open on Thursday.
She will play Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan in a night match at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
Williams has played just one Fed Cup doubles match while away from the WTA Tour. The former No. 1 is unseeded and therefore didn’t receive a first-round bye.
The new mother, who gave birth to a daughter in September, will try to become the first woman to win three singles titles in the desert. Her other titles came in 1999 and 2001 before she boycotted the event for several years.
Williams, a winner of 23 Grand Slam titles, is in the same quarter of the draw as older sister Venus. The siblings could face each other in the third round.
Also set to play Thursday night is another new mom, Victoria Azarenka. She’s a two-time tourney winner who got into the main draw with a wild card. She’s been sidelined because of a child custody dispute that limited her travel.
MANNING-PAPA JOHN’S SALE
Manning sold Papa John’s stores 2 days before NFL cut chain
DENVER (AP) — Peyton Manning sold 31 Denver-area Papa John’s stores last week, two days before the NFL dropped the chain as its official pizza sponsor.
The Denver Post reported Wednesday that Papa John’s spokesman Peter Collins confirmed the former NFL quarterback sold his stake to an existing Papa John’s franchisee. Manning will remain Papa John’s celebrity spokesman and brand ambassador. He wasn’t immediately available for comment.
The NFL and Papa John’s ended their deal Feb. 27, and the league announced a multiyear marketing deal with Pizza Hut the following day. The NFL’s relationship with Papa John’s was strained last year when company founder John Schnatter criticized the league’s leadership about national anthem protests by players.
BOB KNIGHT-STOLEN JERSEY
Bob Knight jersey stolen from high school fundraiser
(Information in the following story is from: The Independent, http://www.indeonline.com)
MASSILLON, Ohio (AP) — Organizers of a fundraiser for an Ohio high school say someone stole a jersey worn by Hall of Fame basketball coach Bob Knight.
The Independent in Massillon reports the jersey was reported missing during a fundraiser for the Fairless High School baseball team at a Massillon bowling alley Saturday.
The legendary Indiana Hoosiers coach was born in Massillon.
Nykole Zimmer, president of the school’s Baseball Mom’s Club board, says about 120 people attended the fundraiser. But she says everyone was either relatives of baseball players or school alumni.
The jersey was donated by Brewster Village Councilman Dave Godwin. He had purchased it from an auction website and estimated it to be worth $250.
Zimmer says the school is offering amnesty for whoever returns the jersey.