<h4>No more Wildcat mascot for Pennell </h4>
Former Arizona interim coach Russ Pennell is introduced as the new Grand Canyon University men's basketball coach Thursday in Phoenix. In the background is the school's mascot, an antelope.
Grand Canyon University gave Russ Pennell a rock star introduction Thursday amid a large cluster of cheering students and athletes, administrators and teachers, balloons and pulsating music.
“I felt like the season ought to start tonight,” Pennell said after being introduced on campus as the Division II school’s new men’s basketball coach.
He led the University of Arizona to a Sweet 16 appearance as interim coach in 2008-09, after replacing Lute Olson, who retired just before the season.
Pennell said he had other inquiries after leading UA to a 21-14 record, but Grand Canyon was most aggressive in its pursuit, even though it still had a coach.
“They were right there,” Pennell said. “With the opportunity and different things afforded here, it was in the front part of my mind the whole time.”
After firming up the multi-year deal Tuesday, the school on Wednesday informed its coach, Dan Nichols, 13-14 in his only season, that he was going to be reassigned.
Contract details were not revealed, but Pennell’s yearly salary will be in excess of $100,000.
Pennell said Grand Canyon approached him to be its coach before he left for Detroit for the Final Four.
He said he talked to his family about the job, the Christian atmosphere and returning to the Phoenix area to raise his family.
“We love Phoenix,” Pennell said. “I think the opportunity to take something they want to grow, progress it at different levels, it just fit. One thing I always wanted was quality of life, and this I think will afford that.”
Grand Canyon is in the early stages of planning for a $20 million, 6,000-seat arena and intends to petition to move up to Division I, a process that would take two years once it’s begun.
After that, it wouldn’t be eligible for the NCAA Tournament until a four-year transition period.
Pennell said his first priority will be recruiting. He said his main focus will be on Maricopa County.
UA’s Patterson aiming high
No telling how high Elizabeth Patterson can sail once she gets all the necessary components down.
Her coach at the University of Arizona, Sheldon Blockberger, said it will be “dangerously high.”
Patterson, a junior, won the NCAA high jump outdoors championship last year with a mark of 6 feet, 2 inches, and this winter set a school indoor record of 6-4 3/4.
Who would think this easygoing girl with the infectious smile could break the laws of gravity like that?
Well, Blockberger did. He took the UA assistant’s job four years ago but the problem was that he had no jumpers.
He got on the Internet and Patterson of Rowlett, Texas, was one of the best hits. It took one visit and the casual University of Arizona campus worked its magic.
She wanted to get out of Dodge, so to speak.
“It was Arizona or Texas Tech and I wanted to get away,” Patterson said.
She was a nice surprise when she reported, literally leaping with potential.
“Great body type for the high jump, long legs,” said Blockberger.
“The trouble was in high school she’d sit and drink a Slurpee and then go jump,” he said. “I had to crack the whip.”
As a frosh, Patterson leaped a personal high of 5 feet 11 on her first try of the indoor season, but things became more difficult.
“She had rested all of the Christmas vacation before, and that’s why she did that height,” Blockberger said. “She never got close to that the rest of the year. Jumpers with half her talent were outjumping her.”
The “whip” was in the form of the weight room, video room, crying room, anything to make her improve with the “Fosbury Flop” (today’s technical style).
“I didn’t know much about it,” Patterson said. “I didn’t know anything about the technical part.”
She soon discovered she really liked the high jump and more importantly, she liked to work at it.
“I made six feet right away my sophomore year,” she said, imparting her secret: “I do what (Blockberger) tells me to do.”
Last month at the NCAA Indoor Championships, she lost a duel to Destinee Hooker of Texas for the national title.
The latter succeeded at 6-6 after both had cleared the 6-4 3/4 mark. Patterson believes in spite of the loss, she now has the confidence edge that will help her.
“You don’t really get over the nerves when you jump, but having them can make you do better,” she said. “(It can be) the difference in making your back or butt or (leg) clear the bar.”
In the meantime, she’s all ears.
“She’ll do 6-6 or 6-7. She is very strong and fast and is building her approach, steps and (push) on that,” Blockberger said. “She is the kind of athlete you have to get on . . . tends to be kind of lazy, but the kind who responds.”
French accuse Armstrong
PARIS – France’s anti-doping agency accused Lance Armstrong of violating its rules Thursday for not fully cooperating with a drug tester and said it could punish the seven-time Tour de France champion.
Armstrong denied misbehaving during a test of his hair, urine and blood on March 17. No banned substances were found.
The agency, known as AFLD, said in a statement that the doctor leading the tests maintains Armstrong “did not respect the obligation to remain under the direct and permanent observation” of the tester.
At question is a 20-minute delay when Armstrong said the tester agreed to let him shower while the American rider’s assistants checked the tester’s credentials. AFLD said cycling’s governing body has given its permission to open disciplinary procedures against Armstrong, but did not say what the punishment might be.
The Associated Press
NUMBER OF THE DAY
Points per game by the Phoenix Suns, the top mark in the NBA. The Suns are the fourth worst team on defense, at 107.6 per game.
Other top offenses:
2. Golden State 108.9
3. L.A. Lakers 106.9
4. New York 105.3
5. Indiana 104.7
6. Denver 104.5
'He was just filthy. He was throwing what he wanted when he wanted and you have to tip your hat. He was unreal.'
Pirates second baseman, after St. Louis pitcher Chris Carpenter (left) allowed one hit in seven innings Thursday
ON THIS DATE
1934: The Chicago Black Hawks edge the Detroit Red Wings 1-0 to win the Stanley Cup.
1961: South Africa’s Gary Player becomes the first foreign player to win the Masters, edging Arnold Palmer and Charley Coe by one stroke.
1977: Tom Watson pulls away in the final four holes to beat Jack Nicklaus by two strokes in the Masters.
1995: Andre Agassi becomes the world’s top-ranked tennis player, ending Pete Sampras’ 101-week streak at No. 1.
The Associated Press
Fans say Wise needs a year of seasoning
Re: UA point guard Nic Wise considering NBA
• Guards of Nic Wise’s talents are a dime a dozen in the NBA. Ask Marcus Williams. Stick around to develop yourself a little more and help get this new program going. 2566
• Nic can only finish with his right hand. He is fast, but so is every other point guard in the NBA. Very good college player but not a NBA level pro. Nic was maybe the third best point guard in the Pac-10; do you really think he is one of the 35 best point guards in the world? I say no to that. MYHICKS
• Nic, I would say stay, that is, if coach Miller can play you 25 to 35 minutes a game and not the 38 to 40 minutes average this past season. That way, you can stay fresh, and reduce wear and tear on your knees. Who knows, your shooting percentage would probably go up too. TALEW