NCAA

Friday's Sports In Brief

Friday's Sports In Brief

NFL

CANTON, Ohio (AP) Single-season sacks leader Michael Strahan and two players who tried to block him are among 15 modern-era finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Strahan, who had 22 1/2 sacks in 2001 and 141 1/2 for his 15-year his career with the New York Giants, is joined by offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden of the Baltimore Ravens and guard-tackle Larry Allen of the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers. The fourth first-year eligible to make the cut is defensive tackle Warren Sapp of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Oakland Raiders.

Strahan, Ogden and Sapp all won Super Bowls.

The hall announced Friday that among the other finalists are Jerome Bettis, Cris Carter, Tim Brown, Andre Reed, Bill Parcells and Art Modell.

NEW YORK (AP) - Mike Westhoff, the Jets' recently retired special teams coordinator, told a Florida radio station that the way the team handled Tim Tebow was ``an absolute mess.''

Westhoff told WQAM in south Florida that he was ``very, very disappointed'' in the Jets' lack of use of Tebow, the popular backup quarterback acquired last March to be a key part of the offense. Instead, Tebow barely got on the field in most games and never started at quarterback - even after Mark Sanchez was benched.

Westhoff adds that he's ``still waiting for the unveiling'' of the game plan that included lots of Tebow. The quarterback tried to hide his frustration throughout the season, but Westhoff says he could see a change in his demeanor and ``that swagger that got out of him a little bit.

NHL

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - After rejoining his Buffalo Sabres teammates on the ice for the first time in some nine months, goalie Ryan Miller had a few lingering frustrations to get off his chest regarding the NHL lockout.

``The best thing to do is acknowledge that it was stupid,'' Miller said.

Miller, who played a role in negotiations, called himself ``embarrassed'' that it took more than six months of negotiations to reach an agreement. At one point during talks, he gave up on the possibility of there being a season this year.

And he laid the blame on owners, specifically singling out Commissioner Gary Bettman, whom he accused of being the reason why the four-month lockout wasn't resolved sooner.

NBA

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant and his wife Vanessa both announced on social media that they've called off their divorce.

Shortly after Vanessa posted the news on Instagram, Kobe confirmed it on Facebook less than an hour before the Lakers hosted the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Vanessa Bryant filed for divorce in December 2011, seeking to end a marriage that began in April 2001 and survived a sexual assault accusation against the five-time NBA champion. The Bryants have two daughters, Natalia and Gianna.

Vanessa Bryant stood by her husband when he was charged with sexually assaulting a 19-year-old woman in Colorado in 2003, saying Kobe Bryant was only guilty of ``the mistake of adultery.''

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

LOS ANGELES (AP) - UCLA coach Jim Mora agreed to a one-year contract extension through 2017 after revitalizing the Bruins in his debut season.

Mora led UCLA to nine victories, the Pac-12 South title and a Holiday Bowl berth just one year after replacing Rick Neuheisel at a school that hadn't won even eight games in a season since 2005.

The former Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks head coach adjusted splendidly to the college game, even beating crosstown rival USC while climbing as high as No. 15 in the rankings.

The Bruins (9-5) lost their final three games, including two meetings with Rose Bowl champion Stanford before a 49-26 loss to Baylor in the Holiday Bowl. But the quiet finish didn't dampen the renewed enthusiasm for football in Westwood.

CYCLING

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) - The head of Switzerland's anti-doping laboratory described as ``nonsense'' claims by U.S. Anti-Doping Agency CEO Travis Tygart that he helped Lance Armstrong avoid being caught for doping.

Lab director Martial Saugy called a news conference to answer accusations by Tygart that he provided Armstrong with information on how to avoid detection for use of the blood-boosting drug EPO.

Tygart told ``60 Minutes Sports'' on Wednesday that Saugy acknowledged to him that he gave Armstrong and his team manager ``the keys to beating EPO tests'' before the 2002 Tour de France.

Saugy suggested that Tygart had ``deficiencies'' in his recollection of their discussion in Moscow in 2010 soon after U.S. federal investigators opened a probe into Armstrong and doping in cycling.

GOLF

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) - Ryo Ishikawa of Japan is headed back to the Masters.

Augusta National Golf Club said that Ishikawa and Thaworn Wiratchant of Thailand have accepted special invitations, which are reserved for international players. It will be the fifth straight year the 21-year-old Ishikawa is playing the Masters. This is his third special exemption.

Thaworn is No. 68 in the world and won the Asian Tour money title last year. He also holds the Asian Tour record for most career victories, winning the Hero India Open last year - his 15th title.

Ishikawa dropped as low as No. 91 in the world late last year before his game picked up. He won the Taiheiyo Masters for his 10th career title on the Japan Golf Tour, part of seven top-10 finishes in his last 10 tournaments of the year. He is No. 75 in the world.

Report: Former Terp Diamond Stone included in federal documents detailing NCAA violations

Report: Former Terp Diamond Stone included in federal documents detailing NCAA violations

A bombshell article published Friday morning by Pat Forde and Pete Thaamel of YAHOO Sports details potential NCAA violations involving more than 20 schools and 25 players.

Among some of the biggest names and programs in college basketball includes former Maryland Terrapin, Diamond Stone.

According to documents and bank records that are part of an FBI investigation, Stone received $14,303 while a freshman at Maryland, a clear violation of NCAA rules. 

Former NBA agent, Andy Miller and his former associate, Christian Dawkins of ASM Sports were dishing out the incentives. Included were cash advances, entertainment expenses and travel expenses for high school and college prospects.

Other player's included in the documents include Dennis Smith who played at North Carolina State, Isaiah Whitehead from Seton Hall, DeMatha star Markelle Fultz who played at Washington and Edrice Adebayo who went on to play at Kentucky. 

Player's and their families from Duke, Michigan State, USC, North Carolina, Texas and Alabama are also included.

Stone played for the Terps during the 2015-16 season before declaring for the NBA draft. He was selected 40th overall by the New Orleans Pelicans and traded to the Los Angeles Clippers. 

Stone did end up signing with a different agency.

While this is still under investigation, large consequences for the NCAA can be expected.

The NCAA released this statement following the news. 

These allegations, if true, point to systematic failures that must be fixed and fixed now if we want college sports in America. Simply put, people who engage in this kind of behavior have no place in college sports. They are an affront to all those who play by the rules. Following the Southern District of New York's indictments last year, the NCAA Board of Governors and I formed the independent Commission on College Basketball, chaired by Condoleezza Rice, to provide recommendations on how to clean up the sport. With these latest allegations, it's clear this work is more important now than ever. The Board and I are completely committed to making transformational changes to the game and ensuring all involved in college basketball do so with integrity. We also will continue to cooperate with the efforts of federal prosecutors to identify and punish the unscrupulous parties seeking to exploit the system through criminal acts.

RELATED: DIAMOND STONE ADMITS TO 'MISTAKES' DURING FRESHMAN YEAR AT MARYLAND

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NHL Awards tracker: Where would the Caps' offense be without Ovechkin?

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USA TODAY Sports

NHL Awards tracker: Where would the Caps' offense be without Ovechkin?

The Hart Trophy is given to the player judged to be the most valuable to their team. With the Caps currently struggling in almost every aspect of the game, consider this: Just where would they be without Alex Ovechkin?

Washington ranks 10th in the NHL in goals per game with 3.05. Ovechkin leads the NHL in goals with 36. He has scored an incredible 19-percent of his team's goals. No one on the Caps is within 20 goals of the Caps' captain.

That's not a typo. Evgeny Kuznetsov ranks second on the team with 16 goals. No other team in the league has a larger separation between its top two scorers. In fact, only three teams have a difference that's in the double digits: Vancouver (11), San Jose (10) and New Jersey (10).

Ovechkin is almost singlehandedly propping up Washington as a top-ten offense. If you think about just where this offense would be without him, there's a pretty strong case to be made that Ovechkin is as valuable to his team this season as any other player in the league.

SEE THIS WEEK'S 2018 NHL AWARDS TRACKER HERE

Here are the Caps' hopefuls for awards this season:

John Carlson

In contention for: Norris

Carlson is fifth among all defensemen with 45 points, but his case goes beyond the numbers. With a blue line that has featured two rookies the majority of the season, an aging veteran in Brooks Orpik and that had to deal with an injury to Matt Niskanen, the Caps have asked a lot of Carlson this season and he has always been up to the task.

Alex Ovechkin

In contention for: Hart

Few players, if any, are as important to their team's offensive production and therefore its success than Ovechkin has been this season.

Check out who the top candidates are for the league's major individual awards in this week's 2018 NHL Awards Tracker!