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NCAA dishes out penalties to Baylor hoops

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NCAA dishes out penalties to Baylor hoops

Comcast SportsNetWACO, Texas (AP) -- The NCAA put Baylor on three years of probation Wednesday after an investigation turned up hundreds of impermissible telephone calls and text messages sent to prep recruits by coaches and assistants on the basketball teams.The violations were considered to be major infractions, and they were announced less than a week after the Lady Bears won the national championship with the first 40-0 season in NCAA history.Still, it could have been much worse for Baylor. All of the penalties were proposed by the school and accepted by the NCAA after a review of nearly 900,000 phone and text message records found that 738 texts and 528 calls were against the rules.The NCAA said men's coach Scott Drew failed to monitor his program and will be suspended for two Big 12 games next season, in addition to recruiting restrictions. Women's coach Kim Mulkey also received recruiting restrictions."I believe strongly in following NCAA rules and will always try to do so in the future," Mulkey said in a statement released by the school. "I do nothing without permission from our compliance office and will continue to ask questions to assure that things are done right. Any compliance-related mistakes, even those that are secondary, are disappointing. The majority of mistakes in this matter were errors in sending text messages and failure to accurately document our phone calls."The report put a bit of a damper on what has been an extraordinary run of success for Baylor athletics.Besides Baylor's win over Notre Dame for the women's title, Drew's team won a school-record 30 games and reached the NCAA regional finals, where the Bears lost to eventual national champion Kentucky. And all that came after star quarterback Robert Griffin III became the school's first Heisman Trophy winner following a football season that included 10 wins for the first time since 1980.Mulkey was named the AP's national coach of the year and junior Brittney Griner was its player of the year. How Baylor recruited Griner, one of the most dominant women's players in college basketball history, was reportedly part of the NCAA probe.A school report obtained by ESPN.com said Mulkey and her staff committed minor NCAA violations for having impermissible contact with Griner and her family. During a 2007 camp, coaches spoke with the Griners about the basketball program, academic requirements and the school in general both before and after the camp.Mulkey also reportedly broke NCA rules when she sat next to Griner's father and discussed what the Baylor experience would be like. Brittney Griner, who is from the Houston area, played on the same AAU team as Mulkey's daughter, Makenzie Robertson.The NCAA report did not mention Griner or her family by name, though Mulkey addressed it in her statement."The other matters were related to my daughter's participation in summer basketball," she said. "While I am and will always be a mother first, I do recognize that there has to be a balance between my role as a mother of a prospect and my role as a head coach. I have always tried to strike that balance and appreciate the opportunity to demonstrate to the NCAA staff such balancing efforts dating back to when Makenzie was in the seventh grade. I am pleased that my efforts to find the appropriate balance between a mother and a coach were recognized."Griner said she had "made it clear to the NCAA staff and everyone else" that she had chosen Baylor early in the recruiting process.Besides keeping Mulkey off the recruiting trail in July, Baylor said one of her assistants has been barred from making recruiting calls from January through April. The school also reduced its women's basketball scholarships from 15 to 13 in 2011-12.On the men's side, Drew will miss the first two Big 12 games of the season, recruiting visits were trimmed and he lost a scholarship this past season and in 2012-13. In addition, a former coach faces a one-year "show cause" order that effectively prevents him from coaching at an NCAA school.The assistant wasn't identified, but FOXSports.com reported in October 2010 that the NCAA was investigating the recruitment of Hanner Perea. The report said assistant Mark Morefield sent dozens of texts to Perea's AAU and high school coaches and urged two of them to provide false and misleading information to the NCAA about a series of text messages. Morefield resigned in July 2011."I sincerely apologize to Baylor University and Baylor Nation," Morefield said in statement released by his lawyer. "I learned a very valuable lesson in this case. In my 13 years of coaching at NCAA institutions, I have not intentionally violated NCAA rules. I will grow from this experience with a better understanding of NCAA rules."The NCAA violations come nine years after Baylor basketball player Patrick Dennehy was found shot to death after he had been missing for six weeks. Teammate Carlton Dotson pleaded guilty to murder. The ensuing investigation uncovered NCAA violations, illegal tuition payments and unreported failed drug tests that led to the resignation of coach Dave Bliss, who was secretly recorded by an assistant coach of trying to persuade others to cover up misdeeds by portraying Dennehy as a drug dealer.Athletic director Ian McCaw said the school has made "significant investments in compliance staffing and infrastructure" since the investigation began.Drew said he took full responsibility for the violations, saying many were simply the result of improperly logging or failing to log calls to recruits. He noted that the school has a new software tracking system to assist coaches with the logistics."I came to Baylor in 2003 to do a job: rebuild a program decimated by very serious NCAA rules violations and tragedy," he said. "I promised to rebuild the program in a way Baylor could be proud-morally, academically and, finally, athletically, and we continue on that journey today."

David Krejci, Adam McQuaid forced out of Bruins win with injuries

David Krejci, Adam McQuaid forced out of Bruins win with injuries

BOSTON – The Bruins returned Patrice Bergeron and David Backes to good health and their lineup on Thursday night, but they also saw a few more players get banged up in their win over the Vancouver Canucks. 

David Krejci exited Thursday night’s 6-3 win over the Canucks with an upper body injury after scoring a power play goal, and Adam McQuaid also had to leave the game after dropping to one knee to block a shot with his right leg. McQuaid was also already banged up after taking a shot off his knee in last weekend’s loss to the Vegas Golden Knights, so taking another shot off the leg certainly wasn’t a helpful development. 

“He blocked a shot, so he’ll get evaluated tonight or tomorrow. I don’t know how serious – he blocks a lot of shots. This one stung him obviously so we’ll see how it turns out. Adam [McQuaid] has been doing that for years around here. He’s one of the unsung heroes in that locker room. Doesn’t get a lot of credit for what he does, the tough parts of the game, blocking shots, sticking up for your teammates,” said Bruce Cassidy. “He actually manages the puck very well. He’s not a flashy player. He’s not a guy that just throws it away either. He makes good decisions with it, and every team needs an Adam McQuaid. We’re certainly fortunate to have him.”

With Krejci it appeared that he suffered some back spasms after getting cross-checked, and that’s what ended up forcing him out of the win. Cassidy doesn’t foresee it being a long-term thing with Krejci, who finished with a goal and two points in 8:21 of ice time centering Jake DeBrusk and David Pastrnak.  

“He has an upper body; he had to leave. He wasn’t feeling too terrific today, and then he got, I think there was a cross-check there. He tried it, but couldn’t continue [playing]. I think he had some spasms, but I don’t think there’s anything long-term there at all.”

It remains to be seen if either McQuaid or Krejci will miss any time with the bumps and bruised suffered on Thursday, but it goes without saying that the Bruins hope they can stay in a lineup that’s beginning to take shape with the full group. 

Haggerty: Patrice Bergeron returns as game-changing force for Bruins

Haggerty: Patrice Bergeron returns as game-changing force for Bruins

BOSTON – To the surprise of absolutely nobody, the presence of Patrice Bergeron is a major game-changer for the Boston Bruins. 

Bergeron finally felt good enough to return to the B’s lineup after missing the first five games of the season with a lower body injury, and the impact was immediate and unmistakable with a goal and four points in a 6-3 win for the Bruins over the Vancouver Canucks at TD Garden. It was also a far-reaching impact with the Bruins center pumping life back in the B’s power play with a return to his bumper position, returning a top penalty killer to the Bruins rotation, bringing normalcy back to the forward group by slotting fellow forwards back into their rightful spots and simply giving the B’s their best all-around player back. 

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Clearly it was a joyous moment for Bergeron to get back on the ice and play after getting a couple of good days in on the practice ice leading up to Thursday night. 

“It’s hard no matter what it is. You know, when you’re missing games, when you’re missing time, it’s… you miss being out there with the guys and battling with them and going through what we have to go through as a team. It’s good to be back,” said Bergeron. “You don’t know what to expect obviously [after a long layoff]. You’re trying to hope for the best. I don’t want to say I was surprised [at his high level of play] because you want to be at your best every time you step on the ice.”

Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Anders Bjork finally skated together for the first time after building chemistry all throughout training camp, and they finished with four goals, 10 points, a plus-6 rating and 13 of Boston’s 35 shots on net for the game. It was the way that the Bruins roster was drawn up headed into the season before they had a five-game detour due to the injuries, and the hope is that’s the way it will continue to look for the Black and Gold moving forward. 

“I mean it’s pretty evident, you know, the way [Bergeron] played out there. He just, it’s incredible the way he came back and dominated the game after being out for that long, you know?” said Brad Marchand, who finally has his longtime partner-in-crime back. “He’s just such a big part of the group. He’s able to calm things down in the room, on the bench, and he leads by example. He just does everything that a top guy does.”

Perhaps most striking of all was the emotion and organization that the Bruins played with having Bergeron and David Backes back in the lineup. The breakouts, reloading counter-attacks and defensive zone coverage all had more noticeable structure, and the Bruins were able to get the wave after wave attack from their forward groups that spurred on goals both during 5-on-5 play and when special teams were involved. 

Some of that is getting two highly talented players like Bergeron and Backes back from injury, and some of it is getting an important, tone-setting leader like No. 37 back for everything he does off the ice as well. 

Bergeron set up the important answering goal in the first period by firing a puck that created a rebound for Bjork to clean up, he did the same for David Krejci’s power play to close out the first period scoring, he created the turnover that led to Marchand’s goal in the second period and then he sniped home his own goal from the bumper spot to finally clinch things in the third period. It was clear that Bergeron is still navigating through discomfort and some level of injury while playing at this point, but his hockey IQ and his gritty toughness are allowing him to still be a highly effective player. 

“I think it was self-evident out there that the play on the ice, first of all, built a matchup against whoever we really want. The Power play obviously [was a] big impact there. I think it’s just morale as much as anything, on the bench and in the room,” said Bruce Cassidy. “Those intangibles, leadership, first shift of the game, he’s standing up. They had scored a goal and [he’s] kind of settling the troops down, talking about the details of the game. 

“[He’s talking about] finishing your routes on the fore-check and reloading all the way to our zone.

[It’s the] stuff that coaches preach a lot, but goes in one ear and out the other sometimes. When you hear it from the leaders of the group, it means so much more. To have that back in the room and along with David Backes, those are guys that are just vocal players that bring a lot in that aspect. It’s generally, a quiet group. That doesn’t mean you can’t be effective and win as a quiet group, but it just helps sometimes to have a little bit of that energy.”

While it was a clearly a feel-good story to see Bergeron back in his proper environs on the ice, it was also just as apparent there’s still some lower body discomfort with the Bruins center. He looked like he was in pain or laboring at times out on the ice, and admitted after the game that the lower body injury might be something he’ll need to manage for the time being. That would tend to mean that once again this isn’t something that’s going to go away anytime soon, and Bergeron will again need to grind his way through the pain. 

“That’s the million dollar question, right? I don’t know what to say to that. I guess yeah, I mean I’m feeling good,” said Bergeron. “But there’s… we might manage a little bit for quite a while. But I’m feeling good and tonight was no issue.”

Clearly Bergeron and the Bruins will gladly take it if he can be a difference-maker like he was on Thursday night with a four points, eight shot attempts and plenty of hard-working shifts in his 20:58 of ice time for the game. They’ll just need to keep their fingers crossed that No. 37 can keep suiting up and playing at a high level, and that the 32-year-old can avoid any further problems after already sitting out the first five games of the regular season.