Friday, February 23, 2024

The Sports Report: How a deaf basketball player’s great moment was tarnished by bureaucracy

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Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

From Bill Plaschke: With barely a minute remaining in a blowout of Porterville College in mid-December, Cerritos College basketball coach Russ May was faced with a heart-tugging dilemma.

Sitting at the end of his bench was Kade West, a 20-year-old who is deaf and autistic. His hands were folded in prayer. He was silently pleading to play in his first game.

West had been hanging around the fringes of the junior college team for more than a year, trying to impress, hoping to belong, shooting countless shots each day at a rickety basket in the alley behind his house, showing up for every practice at the Cerritos gym and playing until it had emptied.

May was so awed by his resilient effort that he added West to this season’s roster to serve as a bench-warming inspiration. West celebrated the awarding of his new No. 15 uniform as if he had just joined the Lakers.

There was one problem. Because West’s special needs prevented him from completing the required 12 academic units required to play, he needed an eligibility waiver from the California Community College Athletic Assn. Despite the family’s best efforts, the waiver appeal had not yet been processed. When the game against Porterville had reached its final 1:39, West was still not yet officially allowed to play.

Yet suddenly, that didn’t seem to matter. The team’s players and assistant coaches and even fans were begging for one shining moment.

May couldn’t help himself. He knew Kade West wasn’t officially on the team, but, at that moment, no one on the team was more important. May looked down to the praying figure. He motioned to the court. It was a gesture he knew West would understand.

May was suspended for a game. Cerritos was ordered to forfeit the victory. And West was temporarily stripped of his uniform.

The CCCAA had dropped the hammer, Cerritos College had administered the blow, and what was once so beautiful became broken.

May is still stunned.

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UCLA BASKETBALL

From Bill Plaschke: It is glamorously called, “The Road to the Final Four,” but on the day UCLA received its coordinates, it was surely struck with a gritty realization.

They weren’t exactly placed on a road. They were placed on a narrow, winding stretch of mud and rocks. They were placed on a potholed path seemingly headed directly into a ditch.

There’s Boise State. There’s Gonzaga. There’s — gasp — Kansas.

In the NCAA men’s basketball tournament pairings announced Sunday, the Bruins were placed in the toughest region against some of the toughest teams and must compete without potentially two of their toughest players.

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Men’s tournament schedule
All times Pacific
Today
(First Four in Dayton, Ohio.)
No. 16 SE Missouri State vs. No. 16 Texas A&M CC, 3:30 p.m., truTV

No. 11 Pitt vs. No. 11 Mississippi St., 6 p.m., truTV

Wednesday (First Four in Dayton, Ohio.)
No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson vs. No. 16 Texas Southern, 3:30 p.m., truTV

No. 11 Nevada vs. No. 11 Arizona State, 6 p.m., truTV

Thursday (Round of 64)
South Regional
No. 8 Maryland vs. No. 9 West Virginia, 9 a.m., CBS

No. 4 Virginia vs. No. 13 Furman, 9:30 a.m., truTV

No. 7 Missouri vs. No. 10 Utah St., 10:20 a.m., TNT

No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 16 SE Missouri St./Texas A&M CC, 11:30 a.m., CBS

No. 5 San Diego State vs. No. 12 Charleston, noon, truTV

No. 2 Arizona vs. No. 15 Princeton, 12:50 p.m., TNT

West Regional
No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 16 Howard, 10:50 a.m., TBS

No. 8 Arkansas vs. No. 9 Illinois, 1:20 p.m., TBS

No. 7 Northwestern vs. No. 10 Boise St., 4:25 p.m., truTV

No. 2 UCLA vs. No. 15 UNC Asheville, 6:55 p.m., truTV

Midwest Regional
No. 8 Iowa vs. No. 9 Auburn, 3:45 p.m., TNT

No. 2 Texas vs. No. 15 Colgate, 4:15 p.m., TBS

No. 1 Houston vs. No. 16 Northern Kentucky, 6:15 p.m., TNT

No. 7 Texas A&M vs. No. 10 Penn State, 6:45 p.m., TBS

East Regional
No. 5 Duke vs. No. 12 Oral Roberts, 4 p.m., CBS

No. 4 Tennessee vs. No. 13 Louisiana, 6:30 p.m., CBS

Friday (Round of 64)

East Regional
No. 7 Michigan State vs. No. 10 USC, 9 a.m., CBS

No. 2 Marquette vs. No. 15 Vermont, 11:30 a.m., CBS

No. 1 Purdue vs. No. 6 Texas Southern/Fairleigh Dickinson, 3:45 p.m., TNT

No. 6 Kentucky vs. No. 11 Providence, 4 p.m., CBS

No. 8 Memphis vs. No. 9 Florida Atlantic vs. No. 8 Memphis, 6:15 p.m., TNT

No. 3 Kansas St. vs. No. 14 Montana St., 6:30 p.m., CBS

Midwest Regional
No. 3 Xavier vs. No. 14 Kennesaw St., 9:30 a.m., truTV

No. 6 Iowa State vs. No. 11 Mississippi State/Pitt, noon, truTV

No. 5 Miami vs. No. 12 Drake, 4:15 p.m , TBS

No. 4 Indiana vs. No. 13 Kent State, 6:45 p.m., TBS

South Regional
No. 3 Baylor vs. No. 14 UC Santa Barbara, 10:20 a.m., TNT

No. 6 Creighton vs. No. 11 N.C. State, 12:50 p.m., TNT

West Regional
No. 5 Saint Mary’s vs. No. 12 VCU, 10:50 a.m., TBS

No. 4 UConn vs. No. 13 Iona, 1:20 p.m., TBS

No. 3 Gonzaga vs. No. 14 Grand Canyon, 4:25 p.m., truTV

No. 6 TCU vs. No. 11 Arizona St./Nevada, 6:55 p.m., truTV

Women’s tournament
Schedule
All times Pacific
First Four
Wednesday

No. 11 Mississippi State vs. No. 11 Illinois, 4 p.m., ESPNU

No. 16 Sacred Heart vs. No. 16 Southern, 6 p.m., ESPNU

Thursday
No. 11 St. John’s vs. No. 11 Purdue, 4 p.m., ESPN2

No. 16 Monmouth vs. No. 16 Tennessee Tech, 6 p.m., ESPN2

First round
Friday
Regional (Greenville 1)

No. 8 South Florida vs. No. 9 Marquette, 8:30 a.m., ESPN2

No. 7 Arizona vs. No. 10 West Virginia, 9 a.m., ESPN

No. 1 South Carolina vs. No. 16 Norfolk State, 11 a.m., ESPN

No. 2 Maryland vs. No. 15 Holy Cross, 11:30 a.m., ESPNEWS

No. 3 Notre Dame vs. No. 14 Southern Utah, 12:30 p.m., ESPN2

No. 6 Creighton vs. No. 11 Illinois/Miss. St., 3 p.m., ESPNEWS

Regional (Greenville 2)
No. 6 Michigan vs. No. 11 UNLV, noon, ESPNU

No. 3 LSU vs. No. 14 Hawaii, 2:30 p.m., ESPN2

No. 2 Utah vs. No. 15 Gardner-Webb, 4:30 p.m., ESPNU

No. 7 N.C. State vs. No. 10 Princeton, 7 p.m., ESPN2

Regional (Seattle 1)
No. 1 Virginia Tech vs. No. 16 Chattanooga, 2:30 p.m., ESPNU

No. 8 USC vs. No. 9 South Dakota St., 5 p.m., ESPNEWS

Regional (Seattle 2)
No. 7 Florida State vs. No. 10 Georgia, 10:30 a.m., ESPN2

No. 2 Iowa vs. No. 15 SE Louisiana, 1 p.m., ESPN

No. 1 Stanford vs. No. 16 Southern/Sacred Heart, 4:30 p.m., ESPN2

No. 8 Ole Miss vs. No. 9 Gonzaga, 7 p.m., ESPNU

Saturday
Regional (Greenville 1)
No. 5 Oklahoma vs. No. 12 Portland, 6 p.m., ESPNU

No. 4 UCLA vs. No. 13 Sacramento State, 8:30 p.m., ESPN2

Regional (Greenville 2)
No. 1 Indiana vs. No. 16 Tennessee Tech/Monmouth, 8:30 a.m., ESPN2

No. 8 Oklahoma State vs. No. 9 Miami, 11 a.m. ESPN

No. 5 Washington State vs. No. 12 Florida Gulf Coast, 11:30 a.m., ESPNU

No. 4 Villanova vs. No. 13 Cleveland State, 2 p.m., ESPNU

Regional (Seattle 1)
No. 4 Tennessee vs. No. 13 Saint Louis, 10 a.m., ABC

No. 3 Ohio State vs. No. 14 James Madison, 10:30 a.m., ESPN2

No. 2 UConn vs. No. 15 Vermont, noon, ABC

No. 5 Iowa State vs. No. 12 Toledo, 12:30 p.m., ESPN2

No. 6 North Carolina vs. No. 11 Purdue/St. John’s, 1 p.m., ESPN

No. 7 Baylor vs. No. 10 Alabama, 2:30 p.m., ESPN2

Regional (Seattle 2)
No. 6 Colorado vs. No. 11 Middle Tennessee, 4 p.m., ESPNEWS

No. 5 Louisville vs. No. 12 Drake, 4:30 p.m., ESPN2

No. 3 Duke vs. No. 14 Iona, 6:30 p.m., ESPN2

No. 4 Texas vs. No. 13 East Carolina, 7 p.m., ESPN

DODGERS

From Jack Harris: There is the way Dustin May feels when he’s on the mound, and there is the way the fiery Dodgers right-hander outwardly expresses it.

On the inside, May has been quietly pleased with his progress this spring, continuing to regain strength and stamina he didn’t realize he was missing last year in his initial return from Tommy John surgery — as well as a newfound level of mental fortitude to go along with it.

“I would say right now is probably the closest I’ve been to pre-surgery, feel-wise,” May said. “I’m in a pretty good spot.”

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Former Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer signs with Japanese team

The World Baseball Classic is a success again. But the best U.S. pitchers stayed away

SOCCER

From Kevin Baxter: A three-month investigation into a decades-old physical altercation between former national soccer team coach Gregg Berhalter and the woman he would later marry has cleared Berhalter but revealed a lengthy series of inappropriate actions by the parents of USMNT player Gio Reyna.

The report, prepared by the Atlanta law firm Alston & Bird and released Monday by U.S. Soccer, found nothing that would prevent Berhalter from returning as coach of the U.S. team. Anthony Hudson, Berhalter’s top assistant coach during last fall’s World Cup, is currently managing the team on an interim basis as U.S. Soccer seeks a replacement for sporting director Earnie Stewart, who resigned last month.

Interviews for Stewart’s replacement have already begun and U.S. Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone said the person who is eventually hired will be responsible for selecting a coach. However, the federation made clear that Berhalter, who has the best winningest percentage for a U.S. coach who worked more than two games, will be considered for the job.

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Commentary: Threats and mudslinging. Damage caused by Gio Reyna’s parents will haunt U.S. Soccer

CHARGERS

From Jeff Miller: Frustrated by the pace of talks on an extension, the agent for running back Austin Ekeler is seeking permission from the Chargers to speak to other teams about a trade.

Cameron Weiss confirmed the request just minutes into the free-agent negotiating period that began Monday morning.

Later in the day, veteran linebacker Eric Kendricks, who played at UCLA, announced on social media that he had agreed to terms with the Chargers.

Ekeler has a base salary of $6.25 million in 2023, the final season of a four-year, $24.5-million extension he signed in March 2020.

That deal ranks 15th in average annual value among NFL running backs. Based on Ekeler’s performance, the website overthecap.com placed the valuation on his 2022 season at slightly more than $12 million.

Over the last two seasons, no one in the NFL has scored more touchdowns from scrimmage than Ekeler’s 38. That’s 12 more than second-place James Conner.

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THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1933 — The Chicago Blackhawks forfeit a game when players refuse to return to the ice after their coach, Tom Gorman, is ejected from the game. Boston, which leads 3-2 at the time of the incident, receives a 1-0 victory.

1944 — In a tennis match to benefit wartime charities, amateur Jack Kramer beat pro champion Don Budge 6-3, 6-2.

1953 — Seton Hall wins the NIT title with a 58-46 win over St. John’s. Walter Dukes, who led Seton Hall with 21 points and 20 rebounds, finishes as the tournament’s high scorer with 70 points and wins the MVP honors.

1954 — Baltimore loses 65-54 at Milwaukee, giving the Bullets their 20th consecutive road loss for the season, and making them the first team in NBA history to go an entire season without winning a game on the road.

1960 — Rookie Wilt Chamberlain scores a playoff record 53 points in the Philadelphia’s 132-112 triumph over the Syracuse Nationals to send the Warriors to the Eastern Division finals against the Boston Celtics.

1962 — Detroit’s Gordie Howe becomes the second player in NHL history to score 500 career goals during the Red Wings’ 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers.

1963 — Guy Rodgers of the San Francisco Warriors hands out 28 assists in a 114-109 loss to the St. Louis Hawks, tying an NBA record set by Bob Cousy of Boston in 1959.

1976 — Bill Shoemaker posts his 7,000th victory, aboard Royal Derby II, in the fifth race at Santa Anita Park.

1981 — A date which defines March Madness. The second round of the men’s NCAA basketball tournament features three upsets decided in the late seconds. Saint Joseph’s stuns No. 1 ranked DePaul 49-48 on John Smith’s layup with two seconds left. Arkansas knocks off Louisville 74-73 on U.S. Reed’s half-court shot that beat the buzzer. Moments later, Rolando Blackman of Kansas State hits a fadeaway shot from the corner with two seconds left for 50-48 win over No. 2-ranked Oregon State.

1987 — Jockey Laffit Pincay Jr. becomes the first rider in the history of Santa Anita Park to win seven races in a single afternoon. In his only loss of the day, Pincay finishes third aboard Bob Back in the eighth race.

1996 — Princeton upsets defending national champion UCLA, 43-41, in the first round of the men’s NCAA basketball tournament. Gabe Lewullis scores a backdoor layup off a bounce pass from Steve Goodrich with four seconds left and the Tigers hold on for the win.

1997 — Pittsburgh Penguins forward Joey Mullen becomes the first American-born player to score 500 career goals, with a goal in the second period of a 6-3 loss against the Colorado Avalanche. The New York native is the 25th player in NHL history to reach the milestone.

1998 — Harvard women become the first 16th-seeded team, men or women, to win an NCAA tournament game by defeating top-seeded Stanford 71-67.

2008 — Lindsey Vonn wins the overall World Cup skiing to complete the first American sweep of the men’s (Bode Miller) and women’s titles in 25 years. Vonn secures the title finishing tied for 11th in the giant slalom, the penultimate race of the season. It’s the first time Americans took both titles since Phil Mahre and Tamara McKinney accomplished the feat in 1983.

2012 — Lindsey Vonn ends the women’s World Cup downhill season in style by dominating the final race held in Schladming, Austria. The American overall champion, who had already won the downhill title, beats Marion Rolland of France by 0.92 seconds. It’s Vonn’s 12th win this season. Only Vreni Schneider of Switzerland won more races in one year — 14 in 1988-89.

—Compiled by the Associated Press

And finally

Princeton upsets UCLA in the men’s tournament. Watch and listen here.

Until next time…

That concludes today’s newsletter. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.

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