Digest for 03-19-14


STATE

A-State WNIT game time set

JONESBORO — The Women’s National Invitation Tournament has announced that the start time for Arkansas State’s opening round game at Texas-El Paso will be at 8 p.m. Friday at the Don Haskins Center.

A-State brings a 22-11 overall record into the match-up with the Miners and has won four out of its last five games. Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year and SBC All-Tournament Team selection Aundrea Gamble leads the Red Wolves with 18.7 points per game, which also ranks second in the league.

Arkansas State advanced to the Sun Belt Conference Tournament championship game for the second time in school history and earned the league’s outright, regular-season crown for the first time in the program’s history. A-State 14 conference wins were the most ever, and its 33 games played on the year are the second most in a single a season.

The Women’s National Invitation Tournament is an annual tournament involving 64 of the nation’s top women’s Division I basketball teams.

All games during the tournament are hosted by participating schools with first-round games opening March 19-21, followed by round two (March 22-25), round three (March 26-28), round four (March 29-31), semifinals (April 2-3), and championship (April 5 at 2 p.m.). The championship game will be nationally televised live in HD on CBS Sports Network.

NATIONAL

Jackson named Knicks’ president

NEW YORK — The New York Knicks named Hall of Fame head coach Phil Jackson president of basketball operations on Tuesday.

The move was expected after reports surfaced last week that Knicks owner Jim Dolan set his sights on Jackson for the position and was aggressive in getting the deal done.

Jackson, a player with the Knicks from 1967-78, retired from coaching in May 2011 after leading the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers to a combined 11 NBA titles. He guided the Bulls to six championships, many times eliminating his former team along the way. Later, he led the Lakers to five titles, the last coming in 2010.

Financial terms of the five-year deal were not announced and Jackson, who said he would be moving to New York for this position, wouldn’t commit to a timeline on how long it would take to turn around the Knicks, who are currently 13 games under .500, haven’t won an NBA title since 1973 and last made the NBA Finals in 1999.

Auburn names Pearl men’s hoops coach

AUBURN, Ala — Auburn has named Bruce Pearl its new men’s basketball coach.

Pearl had been out of coaching since leaving Tennessee amid NCAA violations in March 2011. He had most recently been a college basketball analyst for ESPN.

“I’m humbled and blessed to be back in the game that I love,” said Pearl in a statement Tuesday. “I don’t know how long it will take, but it’s time to rebuild the Auburn basketball program, and bring it to a level of excellence so many of the other teams on campus enjoy.”

Pearl spent six years at Tennessee and guided the Volunteers to the NCAA Tournament each season. He was 145-61 with the Vols and was a two-time SEC coach of the year.

However, Pearl was fired after the NCAA launched a probe into the Tennessee program, an investigation that centered around impermissible phone calls to potential recruits and impermissible contact from Pearl to prospective student-athletes.

Colts owner Irsay checks into rehab

INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay has entered a drug rehabilitation facility following his recent arrest on charges of driving under the influence and possession of a controlled substance.

The Colts issued a statement Tuesday, less than 48 hours after Irsay was booked into the Hamilton County (Ind.) Jail after failing a sobriety test and having several bottles of prescription drugs found in his vehicle.

Irsay was arrested in the Indianapolis suburb of Carmel late Sunday night after driving at a slow rate of speed and failing to signal a turn, according to the police report. After failing several sobriety tests, the 54-year-old was taken into custody.

Multiple prescription drugs were found in pill bottles during an inventory search of the vehicle. The drugs were not associated with any of the prescription bottles found.

Irsay was charged with four felony counts of possession of controlled substances.

QB Newton to undergo ankle surgery

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Carolina Panthers announced Tuesday that quarterback Cam Newton will undergo an ankle procedure Wednesday for soreness that has existed since the end of last season.

The surgery will be done by Panthers team physician Robert Anderson and will require a recovery of approximately four months, which coincides with the start of training camp.

According to the Charlotte Observer, the procedure will tighten ankle ligaments that had been stretched out.

Newton can’t afford to miss many offseason workouts, considering his top four wide receivers from last season are not returning.

The 24-year-old Newton threw for 3,379 yards, 24 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 16 games last season. He also carried the ball 111 times for 585 yards and six scores.