Brad Rock: A coach from Utah stands up for Rick Pitino

SALT LAKE CITY — Rick Pitino critics are everywhere these days. He’s the pariah of the month.

I’ll give him this much: He looks good in a suit.

Still, college basketball’s most vilified coach has his devotees. One is Mark Pope, head basketball coach at Utah Valley University, who says he isn’t condoning Pitino’s behavior. At the same time, he’s saying the former University of Louisville coach changed his life in a positive way.

Previously suspended for running a basketball program that allegedly hired prostitutes to entertain players, Pitino has been reported to be part of a federal corruption investigation into whether recruits were paid by Adidas to sign with college teams. His attorney denies Pitino is part of the investigation.

Pitino is a brilliant coach, but he also has the elusiveness of a snow leopard and the lasting power of salt. The only coach to take three teams to the Final Four might yet salvage his legacy. He is suing Adidas, saying the shoe company conspired to funnel money to a recruit’s family without his knowledge.

In 1977, when he was at Hawaii, Pitino was cited for eight NCAA rules violations, which he maintains he never committed. In 2009, the married father of five had an affair with a woman who claimed he paid for her to have an abortion. He said the money was to pay for insurance. Though she was later convicted of extortion, his reputation took a hit.

Then came the 2015 book that triggered his five-game suspension this year. A former escort said a Louisville basketball staffer paid for the players’ indecent entertainment.

Pitino insists he knows little if anything about the scandals that have dogged him. Strange, coming from a man who, according to Pope, applies “relentless” attention to detail.

Pope, who played for Pitino’s 1996 national championship team at Kentucky, has a different take than most. Asked to comment on Pitino’s situation, he says, “I’d love to talk about it.”

He continues, “You only meet two or three people in your lifetime — if you’re lucky — that absolutely change who you are from your core; who can rearrange your DNA and make you a better human being. Coach did that for me and my teammates.”

Is this the same coach who keeps making news for the wrong reasons?

“So I get all this other stuff,” Pope says, “but I’ll love and honor him ’til the day I die.”

Pope references a book by Brené …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Sports News

Falcons’ Freeman won’t play vs. Seahawks recovering from concussion

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman will sit out Monday night’s game at Seattle while recovering from his second concussion of the season.

Freeman went out on the second play of last weekend’s victory over Dallas after taking a shot to the head. The Falcons ruled him out Saturday.

Tevin Coleman will start in place of Freeman, while Terron Ward moves up to serve as the top backup.

Freeman, the league’s highest-paid running back, spent the last two weeks of the preseason in concussion protocol. He also suffered a concussion during the 2015 season.

Freeman and Coleman have formed a productive tandem, combining for more than 900 yards rushing and seven touchdowns this season.

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Source:: Sportsnet.ca – Sports news

Ben Bishop blanks Edmonton in relief, Stars beat Oilers

DALLAS — Ben Bishop shut out Edmonton over the last 39 minutes after Kari Lehtonen was pulled, and the Dallas Stars beat the Oilers 6-3 on Saturday.

Bishop made 17 saves after replacing Lehtonen early in the second period with Edmonton leading 3-2.

Devin Shore tied the game at 3 with his first goal this season, and Radek Faksa scored with 1:26 left in the second to put Dallas ahead.

Jamie Benn and Jason Spezza added third-period goals. Bishop assisted on Spezza’s power-play goal.

Antoine Roussel and Alexander Radulov scored to give Dallas a 2-0 lead, but Drake Caggiula and Connor McDavid scored to tie the game at 2 entering the second period.

Caggiula scored his second goal of the game less than one minute into the second.

Cam Talbot made 15 saves for the Oilers.

The Stars didn’t have a shot on goal until Roussel scored at 6:36. Two minutes later, Radulov took a pass from Roussel high in the right faceoff circle and sent a slap shot into the lower right corner of the net.

Edmonton tied the game at 2 on a short-handed goal by Caggiula and a power-play score by McDavid 52 seconds apart.

The Oilers took the lead when Caggiula put in the rebound of a shot by Darnell Nurse. Bishop then replaced Lehtonen, who made 10 saves in 13 shots.

NOTES: With a goal and an assist, Benn has 29 points (17 goals, 12 assists) in 27 career games against Edmonton. … McDavid has seven goals in six games vs. Dallas. … Stars D Marc Methot (lower-body injury) missed his fifth straight game. … The first period ended with a fight along the boards. Oleksiak and Edmonton’s Patrick Maroon received major penalties. Roussel and the Oilers’ Matt Benning each had a minor and misconduct penalty. … Dallas has allowed power-play goals in seven of the last nine games.

UP NEXT

Oilers: Play the second game on a five-game trip Tuesday at St. Louis. The Blues won 4-1 at Edmonton on Thursday.

Stars: Host Montreal on Tuesday in the second of two home games.

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Source:: Sportsnet.ca – Sports news